Launched in April 2020 by Policing Minister Kit Malthouse MP, FCN is a forensic science membership network for every police force and law enforcement agency in England and Wales. The network works on behalf of more than 4,000 forensic science specialists across 43 forces with critical services, advice and technology.

Police forces face significant challenges in forensics such as a fragmented approach to services, lack of accreditation, the rapid pace of change in digital, and instability in the commercial marketplace. A national networked approach to forensics will better support the government priorities of cutting crime, protecting the public and increasing trust.

Members of FCN are supported by a core team of 38 highly experienced specialists employed by host force Dorset Police, many of whom joined directly from forces. FCN’s interim CEO, Jo Ashworth OBE, has been leading the team since its establishment.

More than 200 enquiries were submitted to the FCN team between April and October, with 172 of these being requests for a service, advice or general enquiries. 

Every request for a service submitted from policing into the FCN team undergoes a prioritisation process to ensure activity provides the most benefit to the whole membership. 

Through this process, FCN has undertaken several vital national activities including:

Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse MP
Policing Minister, Kit Malthouse MP

Commenting on the six-month milestone, Dorset Police Chief Constable and National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for forensics, James Vaughan, said: 

“This is an important milestone for FCN as members embed themselves in the network during its first year. 

“Policing has agreed that a national networked approach is the way to solve the challenges in forensics – working together will save time and reduce costs in the long-term, as well as standardise forensic services and increase efficiency so we are investing time and energy once not 43 times. FCN is that national approach and it’s an exciting opportunity. Implementing it is not easy or simple, but it’s the right thing to do.

“We’re often asked what the FCN team will do for policing, but I say look at what we’ve done already. Without the team, a lot more leg-work would have fallen on members’ shoulders, especially in a national coordinated approach to managing the risk of Covid-19.”

A national collaboration agreement was shared with police forces during June-August to confirm their membership of FCN, but on members’ request the deadline was moved until after the results of the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review.

Martyn Underhill, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) lead for forensics and Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, added: 

“I am committed to ensuring FCN to best serve policing and the public. The way the network is governed ensures members are in control of its direction, strategy and funding. From the beginning, they told us standards must improve and services must transform, and we are dedicated to enabling them to deliver this change.”

FCN is powered by the Transforming Forensics programme, an NPCC programme which is creating new forensic products, services and capabilities that meet the changing needs of policing and the public.

If you are a member of FCN and would like to request a service, please contact us. For more news visit