The Transforming Forensics (TF) Programme has received confirmation from the Home Office that it will receive up to £10.4m in funding for the 2022/23 financial year.
The money will enable TF to complete delivery of key national capabilities, including the first ever fully networked, end-to-end digital fingerprint capability and a document sharing service to support quality management, as well as the transition of the technical services it has developed to the Police Digital Service (PDS).
Around £5.4m of the funding will cover TF completion, with the remainder going towards service transition. The Programme is now developing detailed delivery plans and resource profiles for FY22/23, working closely with the Home Office and PDS.
The £10.4m is part of a total of £25.6m for forensics for 2022/23 confirmed by Policing Minister Kit Malthouse. Along with TF completion, this will cover the Forensic Capability Network (FCN) and a new digital forensics programme.
Commenting on the funding, TF Programme Director, Richard Meffen, said:
“This TF completion funding is great news for forces and the wider law enforcement community. Forensic science is crucial to ensuring justice is served, so it’s vital that we take steps to modernise our forensics processes and practices. The funding will enable us to build on the successes of TF to date, complete our planned programme activities and deliver more value for policing”.
Between now and the end of the current financial year, alongside developing detailed plans for the year ahead, TF will focus on completing successful projects currently in-flight, including the Rape Review Response Project, working with forces to develop new digital forensics capabilities to improve responses to rape and other serious crimes, and CSE Automate, aiming to test the potential to speed up case processing time and increase Digital Forensic Unit Capacity.
A key part of completion will be packaging up project materials and sharing learnings and outputs from TF’s work in order to maximise value for policing. For example, on 3 March, TF hosted a CSE Automate ‘Show and Tell’ for the community, attended by 100+ colleagues from law enforcement and featuring a walkthrough of progress to date, emerging benefits and next steps. Materials from TF’s existing DF projects will be shared with the new DF programme currently in development.
TF has developed a number of strategic assets for UK Policing, including FCN and Xchange, a groundbreaking digital platform for forensic science. Additionally, TF delivered the Digital Forensic Science Strategy, which guides and underpins digital forensic science activity right across the criminal justice system, and has created and published operational guidance for the storage and handling of DF data and legacy data, which is a major challenge for forces.
Technical services developed by TF will move to PDS rather than to FCN as originally planned. This approach follows recommendations made in an NPCC strategic review which took place in 2021. Led by former Deputy Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Sir Craig Mackey, the review gave the police community an opportunity to set a new direction of travel for forensics in policing. This will see FCN will move away from overseeing live technical services in forces or leading on technology and procurement activities.