Forensic Innovation Centre: a unique collaboration between Hampshire Constabulary and the University of Portsmouth

Forensic Innovation Centre: a unique collaboration between Hampshire Constabulary and the University of Portsmouth

Portsmouth-SoRThe University of Portsmouth has joined forces with Hampshire Constabulary to lead the country in forensic science research, practice and police work.

The Forensic Innovation Centre (FIC) is the first operational police forensic research facility in the country to be based on a University campus.

This unique centre combines police forensic science and digital crime-fighting investigators with a state-of-the art learning facility for researchers, students and serving police staff. The Centre opened in January 2015 and sees police, academics and students working side-by-side to help detect and solve crime.

The FIC collaboration is the product of an already successful partnership between the two organisations. University students and academics are now working alongside police colleagues in all areas of police forensic science and digital investigations.

Forensic science is continually changing and evolving in line with science and technological developments. Its use in policing is undertaken with increased scrutiny, requiring evidence of accountability and competence. Thanks to this leading partnership, the University’s researchers will always be at the forefront of any practical or professional changes and developments in the sector. For Hampshire Constabulary, the collaboration means an increased capacity to research, develop and test new methods, technology and techniques.

The Centre has launched several research projects, such as examining the effectiveness of DNA evidence and fingerprinting in investigations, and collaborative teaching programmes, where, for example, students learn to effectively assess forensic evidence at crime scenes – both of which benefit the Constabulary and the University’s students.

Police staff are now helping students first hand through honorary lectureship positions and police-student mentoring programmes. Thanks to the FIC, students are now provided with internship opportunities, the chance to work on year-long sandwich courses, or they can be part of a bespoke ‘Learning from Experience’ scheme which sees them working with a mentor from Hampshire Constabulary.

Through such mutually beneficial projects in the FIC, students are gaining important, unparalleled experience of working on the frontline of police forensics, while police staff gain access to teaching support and University resources which can help with their own professional development. Additionally, Hampshire Constabulary has instant access to a pool of potential future employees who have been fully vetted, trained in its own specifications and, in some cases, taught or mentored by police staff.

The University’s Institute of Criminal Justice Studies (ICJS) is one of the UK’s leading centres in criminology, criminal justice and police studies and links relevant specialisms from the across the University in areas such as computer science, DNA and imaging technology. Staff from Hampshire Constabulary are now part of this community of expertise, both as learners and education providers. Hampshire Constabulary capitalises on this know-how through tailored programmes from undergraduate degrees to postgraduate and professional doctorate level qualifications.

Detective Superintendent Phil McTavish, from Hampshire Constabulary, said: “Over the last year we have forged a highly innovative and productive partnership in forensic science with the University of Portsmouth and with our very close working partners at the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies particularly. This relationship offers significant benefits to both organisations and we look forward to building upon this very welcome success with our University of Portsmouth partners in developing and delivering further innovative and beneficial opportunities for our students, staff and of course for the public in the future.”

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