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Clear direction for forensics future

We all experience moments when our focus gets rooted in the detail – one that we perceive will bring disorder to an otherwise orderly path of travel. At these times a bit of external perspective is always helpful, reminding us of the bigger picture – the long term aim.

That’s why I welcomed the publication of the Home Office commissioned Joint Review of Forensics last week, and importantly its affiliated implementation plan. It makes one thing very clear, the developing Forensic Capability Network (FCN), being created through the Transforming Forensics Programme, is seen as the long term, sustainable solution to meeting the forensic needs of the service and wider Criminal Justice System.

These needs were further outlined in the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee report released this week. Unfortunately it was, in my opinion, wide of the mark in some aspects and should have gone further in offering support for the practical delivery of ‘police’ forensic operational practices.

However, of the 13 actions outlined in the Home Office’s action plan, eight are directly linked with the creation of, or management of forensics through, the FCN. This is clear evidence not just of the appetite for change but of the mechanism for making it happen.

As forceful as some may wish to interpret the message, the very concept, ethos and design of the FCN means it is created for the community by the community. Since its inception we have not wavered from the FCN vision of working together nationally to deliver high quality, specialist forensic science and capabilities and sharing knowledge to improve resilience, efficiency, quality and effectiveness. Our approach across all areas of the programme is one of utilising the fantastic knowledge and experience that already exists to design and deliver solutions in a way you want them.

Are all the T’s crossed and the I’s dotted – no. Should they be by now – no. What we do have is a credible plan to deliver an initial capability by March 2020 putting in place a solid foundation for future growth.

We have significantly increased our engagement with forces in recent weeks, at all levels, and whilst we recognise an evident need for the finer detail on how the FCN will operate, there is an increasing and clear recognition for this national, joint approach. The pending release of our FCN Prospectus will help provide that next level of detail we know so many of you want and need.

There will undoubtedly be bumps in the road but what I think we can all agree is that we must stop chasing our tails and focus on what is in front of us. The Home Office Joint Review, alongside the actions agreed, is the Government’s firm support of a concept becoming reality and of everything you have helped us achieve so far.