From August 6-9 (Belize) and 13-16 (Guyana), the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), in collaboration with Energy Containment Concepts of England, completed the installation, training and handing over of a 20 ft Containerized Test Firing Range to the National Forensic Science Service (NFSS) of Belize and the Guyana Police Force (GPF) respectively.

In 2015, UNLIREC conducted Technical Assessments of the National Forensic Science Service (NFSS), GPF and Guyana Forensic Science Laboratory to determine the Forensic Ballistics Capabilities and Future Requirements of the Governments of Belize and Guyana. The findings of these assessments noted similar health and safety concerns with the existing test fire facilities in both countries. In Belize, the Assessment highlighted that, test firing facilities presented health and safety issues that needed to be addressed urgently as conditions were potentially very dangerous to staff. Similarly, it was noted that the GPF test fire facilities did not meet any standards, is not fit for purpose and should be addressed immediately.

UNLIREC engaged an internationally recognised leader in the installation of Firearm Ranges to supply and commission a containerized test firing range for both countries. The ranges are lined with ballistic steel, acoustic surfacing panels designed to reduce and absorb reflected sound on the perimeter walls, non-skid anti-ricochet rubber mats on the floor, anti-ricochet ballistic tiles to slow the speed of fired projectiles on the walls and ballistic rubber bullet catchers capable of withstanding up to 5000 shots before replacement.

The cost of the containerized range for each country was US$80,000.00. The new facility would significantly reduce health and safety concerns, boost the morale and efficiency of the Forensic Firearms Examiners, and improve the National Forensic Science Service and Guyana Police Force’s forensic ballistic capacity. Test firing and function testing practices will now take place in secured ballistic facilities.

The supply of the containerized test firing range is one of several activities provided under the Operational Forensic Ballistic assistance package sponsored by Canada (Belize) and by the United States of America (Guyana). Other assistance to Belize and Guyana included a specialized Evidence Management Course, equipment and training in the creation of double casts of bullets and cartridge cases, provision of forensic ballistic Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) and the development of Collaborative Exercises to prepare firearm examiners for proficiency testing.

UNLIREC, as the regional organ of the UN Office for Disarmament, seeks to advance the cause of practical disarmament in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of its commitment to support Member States in their implementation of international disarmament and non-proliferation instruments, in particular, the 2001 UN Programme of Action on Small Arms.