By its very nature, a national programme will be a long journey of ups and downs. It will encounter many a raised eyebrow in response to the unexpected and jubilation when innovative ideas finally become reality.

At our most recent Executive Review Board (ERB) the team took us through the TF journey to date – a check on just how far we have come since the outset, none of which would have been possible without your continued support. You challenged our ideas constructively and worked with us to develop solutions.

Do not underestimate the recognition this work gets from the highest level. As Jo said in her recent blog, the publication of the Home Office commissioned Joint Review of Forensics, and its affiliated Implementation Plan, makes one thing very clear, the developing Forensic Capability Network (FCN) is seen as the long term, sustainable solution to meeting the forensic needs of the service and wider Criminal Justice System. This concept is one you have created.

Along with Jo, I have spoken to chief officer and PCC colleagues across regions about the developing FCN in recent weeks. There is an acute understanding of the need for change and for that to be co-ordinated nationally. Let’s be clear, TF is not about replacing what is done at a local level, or what is already done well. It is about fostering good practise and allowing all forces to benefit locally.

So too there are questions about our approach, which we welcome - we need that challenge and feedback if the solution is going to be one created by you, the forensics community, for your benefit and the benefit of your communities.

The huge effort to progress some significant areas of work is and will become evident through both the publication of the final Capability Maturity Model (CMM) report last week and the much anticipated FCN Prospectus later this month. These documents further outline the need, the evidence and importantly the services designed to overcome the challenges we face and how these will develop.

Will there still be questions – of course. This is the nature of working within the existing policing landscape and designing a service where everyone’s starting point is different.

On another note I’m delighted to say that ACC Paul Gibson, Derbyshire Police, is now leading the Forensics Marketplace Strategy Board, a group that will work hand-in-hand with the FCN Commercial capability to not just steady the ship of a previously unstable marketplace, but continue proactively driving activity to make it work as efficiently as it can for your benefit.

Finally, as the NPCC forensics lead I’m privy to all the great work being done across all forensic disciplines in policing. But too often we do very little to highlight this, only making headlines in response to the negatives, and missing opportunities to share the good news and what we have learned. That’s why, alongside the renewed energy I see across the national forensics portfolio, we are setting out to plan a national event that will demonstrate the fantastic work going on and afford you the opportunity to contribute directly to the important discussions we must continue to have to make this area of work prosper. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on details of the event, which we are planning for the new year.