POLICE investigations are being delayed by an alarming rise in the time taken to process forensic material. The Government Laboratory says there has been an explosion in waiting times for drugs tests, toxicology reports and DNA profiling - with a threefold jump in some areas in the past six months. Assistant Chemist Dr Ned Dailly said delays had occurred despite the lodging of an urgent application for extra specialist staff. This was rejected prior to the Governor's Policy Address in October. But the Security Branch vowed to review workloads, performance and staffing levels next month. Although the laboratory is aiming for an eight-day processing time for drug work, it is running at 15 days. Similarly, toxicology times have blown out this year from 33 to 56 days. But the worst example of delays centres on DNA profiling, which now takes 150 days to complete compared to a 64-day cycle at the start of the year. Because of the resource problems, the laboratory has been unable to take on necessary research into emerging DNA techniques. This has forced police to start sending key samples to Britain for processing - at a rough cost of $200,000 each time. When forensic samples are taken offshore, a police officer has to physically carry the exhibit. In almost all matters, a DNA chemist will be required to be flown back to the territory after the testing to give expert testimony, adding greatly to the prosecution expense. Dr Dailly said he did not want to publicly criticise the delays but was merely stating facts. Of most concern is a failure to recruit a chemist for testing dangerous drugs and a biochemist for DNA profiling. Two chemists and a technician in toxicology have also not been employed. 'We were desperately hoping for additional resources and the funding for DNA profiling and analytical toxicology,' Dr Dailly said. 'With dangerous drugs work, with the impact of automation, we were hoping to get a higher throughput. 'We are having difficulty with the sheer number of files. 'If things don't change, our turnaround times will continue to steadily decline throughout 1995. 'Obviously, these problems are slowing up the investigative process but the police have been sympathetic.' The laboratory has not achieved its plans to study new amplification techniques in DNA profiling; the analysis of blood, hair and body fluids to positively identify crime suspects. Deputy Director Crime, Assistant Commissioner David Hodson, said he was aware of various delays in processing forensic material. 'It seems to be the way of the world,' he said, 'but whether these delays are outrageous, I am not really aware'.