FCN has helped raise more than £1m in additional funding for nine forensic research projects on behalf of policing in the past two years.

By operating at a national level and coordinating various research activities, FCN has helped secure investment which may not have been available for local police forces otherwise. Most funding has been provided through the Home Office’s Science, Technology, Analysis and Research (STAR) scheme.

The research activities are focused on some of the highest priority issues for policing and the public, include tackling violence against women and girls, county lines, biometrics and wellbeing.

In addition to coordinating funding bids and projects, FCN hosts six popular research groups which bring together representatives from policing, academia and private-sector providers to discuss topics including digital forensics, drugs and toxicology, DNA, ecology, marks and traces, and visual technologies.

Research activities are led by Dr Carolyn Lovell, FCN’s research and development manager. Dr Lovell spent 24 years at Hampshire Constabulary working in forensic operations. In 2021 she gained a PhD from the University of Portsmouth for research linked to the police investigation of sexual offences.

The nine research projects include:

  • £335,000 for research into the use of microscopy and artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance evidence gathering from crime scenes, working with Staffordshire University and industry partners
  • £235,000 to begin development of a Y-STR chromosome database as part of the services provided by the National DNA Database, working with the Home Office’s Forensic Information Databases Service (FINDs), academia and forensic service providers
  • £110,000 to develop a forensic science data portal (joint funded by STAR and the National Security Technology and Innovation Exchange, or NSTIx) working in partnership with the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) and Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl)
  • £80,000 to research new and innovative ways to locate and recover microscopic bodily fluids found at crime scenes, led by the Metropolitan Police Service, King’s College London and forensic service providers
  • £50,000 for research into the use of forensic intelligence to identify drug networks and crack down on county lines activity, working with Hampshire Police, the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (EMSOU) and crime consultancy Crest Advisory
  • £20,000 to develop a predictive model for fibre transfer in criminal cases
  • £150,000 to help digital forensic and CSI staff wellbeing using data analytics from wearable devices and other psychometric tools, developed by FCN workforce strategy leads Paula Mulroy and Jo Morrissey and working with Hampshire Police and industry partners
  • £73,000 to research the forensic use of molecular fingerprint technology to support police investigations, working with Yorkshire and the Humber policing region and Sheffield Hallam University. Read our interview with Professor Simona Francese who is leading the research
  • £140,000 per year for biometric technology which talks across data services, collaborating as part of an EU consortium

There are also ongoing funding bids for various projects on which FCN is collaborating with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) body including Transforming Assessment of Criminal Evidence (TRACE), the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) and much more.

Dr Lovell said:

“These are exciting times for forensic research in the UK, and with attention focused on areas which are priorities for policing and criminal justice. This is what FCN is here to do — facilitate at a national level and connect public, private and academic organisations across the community. We’re proving that together we can achieve greater investment and embed innovative new forensic science into policing. Now we need to ensure more funding and focus is provided across the whole forensic domain.”

Read more about FCN’s research activities and working groups.