The Forensic Capability Network (FCN) will align more closely with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) from April 2024 after major changes were agreed to its funding.

Previously funded by the Home Office through an annual grant, under the new set-up FCN will be funded from the NPCC’s operating budget to the value of £2.8m for 2024/25.

FCN will still be hosted on behalf of policing by Dorset Police, which employs FCN’s staff who are located nationwide.

The new arrangement means that for the first time since its launch in 2020, FCN will be funded only by policing.

The cost of running FCN has reduced each year as the organisation has become more streamlined. At its launch, the annual budget was £5.5m and during 2023/24 it was £3.2m. FCN’s remit became more focused towards quality, performance and science development activities following an independent strategic review in 2021.

NPCC’s Chief Constables’ Council supported the funding move in its December 2023 meeting.

NPCC Forensic Lead, Chief Constable Nick Dean, said:

“FCN has been an important part of the police family for several years now and this agreement cements that.

“The fact Chiefs are so overwhelmingly supportive of FCN shows what a strong impact the team makes and what a positive reputation it now has. We know that a national, coordinating body in the form of FCN will help boost forensics and achieve better justice.”

While being police funded, FCN is also available for commissions and partnerships with government, private-sector, academic and international organisations.

FCN’s Managing Director (interim), John Armstrong, said:

“We view this as an excellent and very welcome change. Since FCN was founded, we knew Home Office funding was a short-term measure and that a permanent route would be needed. Aligning more to the NPCC puts us on the most sustainable footing we could hope for and opens up the chance for new ventures.

“While FCN will be police-owned, I want to highlight that we will remain the same inclusive, outward-looking organisation we’ve always been. If anything, we now have more freedom to expand our connections, undertake more innovative partnerships, work together and help the whole forensic community.”