In 1950, the Forensic Science Laboratory of the State Secretariat of Home Affairs was established in Ljubljana. The forensic science laboratory commenced operations at 7 Beethoven Street in Ljubljana, in a corner building between Cankar and Beethoven Streets. At a later date, the laboratory was moved to the premises of the Ministry of the Interior at 2 Štefan Street.

In its first (full) year, it produced 167 expert opinions: 83 document or handwriting analyses, 23 fingerprint examinations, 22 firearm identifications, 9 chemical analyses, 5 footwear trace analyses, etc. The first collections of firearms, typewriter fonts, and tyres were also created.


The laboratory began implementing new methods as early as 1952, especially in the fields of ballistics (firearm identification) and textile fibre and plant analysis. It is also worth mentioning that an identification based on expert examination of the papillary lines of a foot was made. The first biological analyses were also carried out that year, but they were performed in a chemical laboratory as the biological laboratory was only founded 20 years later.

The figures show the interesting development of the then-Militia's need for forensic science analyses. The laboratory worked on 219 cases in 1953, of which more than half were handwriting analyses (121) while a further 25 were document analyses. In addition, 6 chemical and 5 biological analyses were performed, while analyses of tools (5) were carried out for the first time.

The year 1955 was also a year of document analyses in the forensic laboratory as such accounted for almost two thirds of all expert opinions (226); in addition, 19 firearm identifications, 45 fingerprint examinations and 81 chemical analyses were completed. In the same year, 7000 photographs of persons were taken and more than 7500 fingerprint examinations were carried out as a part of the forensic science laboratory's activities.


Also in 1955, the State Secretary of the Interior at the time issued a decision that regulated the tasks and workflow of the forensic science laboratory, while the head of laboratory was responsible directly to the State Secretary of the Interior of the People's Republic of Slovenia (hereinafter: PR of Slovenia). The laboratory's tasks were to deliver expert opinions, take part in crime scene inspections and keep records (collections and records). The laboratory was also tasked with monitoring the newest scientific developments and training forensic scientists and other employees of the State Secretariat of the Interior of the PR of Slovenia. Interestingly, one of its duties was also to publish academic articles. Likewise, it was in charge of organising forensic science activities in the PR of Slovenia, which it also organisationally and professionally managed.

In 1956, the Central Operational Forensic Science Bureau had 16 employees: four employees in the chemical laboratory, two employees in both the physics laboratory and sketch room, two employees in the graphology and photography department, five in the dactyloscopy department, and one in administration.

Over time, the number of employees varied, while the number of completed investigations rose each year. In 1961, there were 17 posts classified in the laboratory, while 14 were occupied. The Department of Forensic Science consisted of two chemical laboratories, a physics laboratory and offices for graphology, dactyloscopy and photography. In the following years, the number of employees decreased as there were only nine persons employed in the laboratory in 1967, who completed 735 expert opinions in total.


In 1970, the number of employees rose to 13, one of whom also had a university degree, and the equipment used was very modest: a comparison microscope and some other microscopes, a UV-VIS spectrophotometer, an infrared spectrometer and a spectrograph with a laser microspectral analyser.
Almost 20 years after the first investigations, the biological laboratory was established in 1971 with only one expert.

In 1973, the Forensic Science Laboratory became a part of the criminal intelligence service and therefore lost its position and independence within the Ministry.

By the late 1970s, the laboratory reinforced staffing and became more comparable to similar institutions around the world. In 1981, a new, purpose-built building was constructed on Vodovodna Street in Ljubljana, where the laboratory was situated for the next 35 years and where, later, a modern laboratory building was erected.

In 1991, the laboratory of the Department of Criminal Investigations with six divisions, namely for biological examinations, forensic photography, dactyloscopy, graphology, chemical examinations and physical examinations, was renamed the Centre for Criminal Investigations.


The independence of Slovenia in 1991 posed a special challenge for the employees of the laboratory. 24-hour standby duty was introduced to ensure that employees were available for incident investigation, especially shootings. Every event was processed in accordance with forensic science standards, while the identification of soldiers of the Yugoslav People's Army also took place.

In 1992, the idea of the formal integration of forensic laboratories in Europe matured. A total of 17 laboratories from different countries participated. The Centre for Criminal Investigations was the only "Eastern European" laboratory invited, and is today still regarded as one of the founding members of the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI), which was formally founded in 1995.

An important milestone for the Centre was the introduction of human DNA profiling, hiring geneticists and establishing a DNA database in 1996. In the same year, the database was regulated by the Police Act. At that time, there were five units operating within the Centre: the chemical laboratory, the physics laboratory, the biological laboratory, and units for documentary analysis and fingerprint examinations, while forensic photography was a part of the physics laboratory.

In 1998, the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Slovenia severely destabilised the position of the Centre for Criminal Investigations by way of Decision U-I-132/95. The court held that the impartiality and independence of the laboratory were to be assessed by taking into consideration its legal status and that its employees are officers of the Ministry of the Interior. Establishing that, in accordance with the law, the Centre was engaged in the prosecution of criminal offences, the Constitutional Court held that this fact alone cast doubt on its impartiality to such a degree that its appointment as an expert in criminal proceedings would constitute a violation of the constitutional guarantee of the equal protection of rights. This decision presented the laboratory and the police with a considerable problem as many forensic analyses were carried out during the pre-trial criminal procedure, while some, owing to the specific nature of forensic tests, could not be repeated.


In 2001, the Centre was once again renamed to the Centre for Forensic Science. It also signified a cultural leap since, apart from some German-speaking countries and some Scandinavian laboratories, the term "criminalistic methods" was no longer used to denote the scientific analysis of evidence from crime scenes.

In the same year, the Centre for Criminal Investigations started using the AFIS (Automated Fingerprint Identification System) made by the manufacturer MorphoTrak, which went out of business many years ago. In 2012, the system was updated with co-financing from the EU.

In 2002, the police and the Centre for Forensic Science took over the investigation of currency counterfeiting from the Bank of Slovenia in a span of only three months. In accordance with European legislation, the National Analysis Centre (NAC) and the Coin National Analysis Centre (CNAC) were founded in 2004 within the Centre for Forensic Science. Today, they act as the central authorities for investigations of counterfeit banknotes and coins, and are the only institutions that can perform analyses of euro banknotes and coins.

Considering the difficulties brought on by the Constitutional Court's decision of 1998, the Government of the Republic of Slovenia adopted the Decree amending the Decree on the internal organisation, job classification, posts and titles in public administration and judicial bodies (Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia No 109/2003) in 2003, which formally guaranteed the autonomy and independence of the experts of the Centre for Forensic Science.

In 2006, when the Centre for Forensic Science had 52 expert employees (three with PhDs and two masters of science), technicians and other staff, the laboratory began preparations for two important development tasks: accreditation and building a new, bigger building fit for the purposes of modern science. The construction of the new building was an especially difficult but at the same time crucial task. During the 2010s, some employees at the Chemical Examination Section had to move to containers installed in the car park of the old building, while some of the human DNA profiling team moved to a temporary location on Jože Jama Street, where the NAC/CNAC documentary analysis unit also subsequently moved.

The then Head of the Centre for Forensic Science, Janez Golja, requested the assistance of experts from the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) during the technically complex process of acquiring laboratory and method accreditations. With their help, the Centre for Forensic Science managed to obtain accreditations for several methods by 2010. The same year, the laboratory was also renamed the National Forensic Laboratory (NFL), which is still used today. Since 201 the laboratory successfully widened its scope of accreditation and has now 23 accredited methods.

While the autonomy of the experts of the laboratory has been regulated by the Decree amending the Decree on the internal organisation, job classification, posts and titles in public administration and judicial bodies since 2003, it is the Organisation and Work of the Police Act of 2013 that regulates the autonomy and independence of the experts of the laboratory by law.

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New, modern premises of the National Forensic Laboratory

While the implementation of quality management was relatively quick, the relocation to the new building was much more difficult as the planning coincided with the financial crisis. With the support of the then Director General of the Police, Janko Goršek, Minister of the Interior Katarina Kresal, who also managed to mobilise the support of the then Prime Minister Borut Pahor, the long-awaited construction of the new building began in 2012. Due to the financial crisis and the decline of construction companies, the new building was actually completed by the third selected provider. A large part of the laboratory could not be moved to another location, so a portion of the staff had to perform tasks, so to speak, on a construction site as the new building was constructed beside the old one from 2001. After the construction of the new building was finished, those employees moved from the old and damaged building and containers to the new building, which, in turn, enabled the construction workers to renovate the old building as well. In late 2014, the employees who had been working in temporary workspaces on Jože Jama Street moved to the brand new work location at the National Forensic Laboratory. The official opening of one of the most important additions to the police since independence took place on Police Day in June 2015 when the National Forensic Laboratory moved operations from a cramped workspace of only 850m2 to the new 4500m2 facility, which will ensure suitable work organization, prevent contamination, etc.

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The period after 2010, once the new building had been finished, was extremely important with regard to the acquisition of new accreditations as the new, purpose-built spaces facilitated the conditions for complying with the high requirements and standards that are needed for accreditation and to perform activities enabled by the accreditations. Due to the EU requirements, it was key that accreditations for performing DNA tests were acquired - a task which was successfully completed in a very short period by the Biological Examination Section.

With Slovenia's accession to the EU, the National Forensic Laboratory was also afforded the opportunity to receive project financing. In the period between 2011 and 2016, the laboratory carried out five projects with a total value of EUR 3,566,000.00 State-of-the-art analytical equipment was purchased and several incredibly important studies were carried out that also drew the attention of the international public.

70 let forenzike

70 Years of Forensics in Slovenia (2020)