As the Forensic Programme Manager, Dr Jill Vintiner is responsible for the programme’s financial performance, quality assurance, science development and overall delivery. From attending crime scenes, to analysing evidence, to testifying in court, her teams are responsible for the delivery of forensic services ESR provides for New Zealand’s justice system.
With a background in biochemistry, Jill earned her Doctorate in Molecular Genetics from the University of London. She began her career working in clinical genetics research at the Hospital for Sick Children, Great Ormond Street. In 2000, Jill joined ESR as a Forensic Biology Senior Scientist.
“I came to ESR when forensic DNZ analysis was advancing around the world and the New Zealand DNA Databank was gaining traction,” Jill says. “I was fortunate enough to be involved in the databank’s expansion and to then develop my career by being successfully appointed to a newly created role of Research Programme Manager’s role.”
Jill says the creation of the role reflected ESR’s ongoing commitment to the field of forensic research. The Forensic Programme provides expertise in key areas of forensic science and includes crime scene attendance and evidence recovery, biology, toxicology and chemistry. Further, the Chemistry group is comprised of physical evidence, drugs and clandestine laboratory attendance.
“We have taken a very strategic approach to building our forensic programme,” she says. “Our main client for forensic services is the New Zealand Police. It’s crucial that we are able to meet their needs with a service which is timely, independent, and based on robust scientific principles.”
She says credibility is key, as is having a good working relationship with the Police and Courts.
“There are many touchpoints between our teams and the justice system,” she says. “So it’s extremely important that we work as a coordinated team. Working under one programme really allows for that. It also allows us to be versatile and nimble.”
As one of New Zealand’s experts in forensic science, Jill also serves on the University of Auckland, Forensic Science Board of Studies and the Australia New Zealand Policing Advisory Committee(external link).