A total investment of £28.6m, shared between the Transforming Forensics (TF) programme and the newly created Forensic Capability Network (FCN), has been announced by the UK government.

The investment in forensics has been announced by the Home Office for 2020-21, to accelerate innovation and help combat crime across England and Wales.

The funding will bring national benefits to all police forces and the wider forensics community across England and Wales.

Transforming Forensics will use its funding to continue delivering a range of world-leading services, products and support for the forensic community, as well as introducing a new focus on digital forensics. The investment will enable advances in science and innovation, giving practitioners access to new technologies, automation for large-scale data processing and more efficient workflows.

The new FCN, established by the TF programme, will provide a range of scientific, operational, quality and commercial capabilities and services to forces. It will exist alongside and work closely with TF helping to mature products and embed them successfully within policing. 

With funding now confirmed, the FCN is set to formally launch in April 2020. A draft Section 22A agreement setting out how the FCN will operate and the governance arrangements for the network has been developed in consultation with APACE, PACCTS and the NPCC, and will be shared with forces in the coming weeks.

The forensics funding for 2020-21 comes as part of the government’s biggest increase in spending on the police system in a decade. An almost 10% increase on the core grant provided to forces last year was announced on Wednesday, 22 January.

In a parliamentary statement, Minister of State for Policing and the Fire Service, Kit Malthouse MP, said: “This Government will continue to support the completion of national transformation programmes delivering enhanced capabilities across policing. 

“This will include […] improvements to how fingerprint and digital forensics are used, helping forces to deliver a fully accredited, more integrated and sustainable service; and an uplift to forensics, including digital forensics, to build capability across policing and for new officers.”

Commenting on the funding announcement, James Vaughan, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for forensics and Chief Constable of Dorset Police, said: “This funding will help create a bright new future for UK forensics, and we are committed to working with forces to bring our forensic capabilities to a world-leading standard. 

“Through Transforming Forensics, we have already made excellent progress in developing national services, products and networks for the forensic community, and in helping to stabilise the forensic services supplier market during recent times of challenge.

“This investment means we can strengthen and expand this important work into the new Forensic Capability Network – in coordinating resources on a national basis so we are doing things once on behalf of the many, as well as advising on quality standards, and driving innovation.”

Martyn Underhill, the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) lead for forensics and Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset Police, added: “Forensics plays an absolutely critical role in fighting crime and delivering justice, and this funding is an important step in delivering forensics services that truly meet the needs of the public in the 21st century.

“Over the coming months, we will be reaching out to and collaborating with forces to ensure the FCN is delivering tangible support firmly rooted in the needs of forensics teams across the country. We look forward to making further exciting announcements soon.”

For more news and updates on the Forensic Capability Network, visit www.fcn.police.uk/news.