What is FCN?

The Forensic Capability Network is the national network for forensic science in policing in England and Wales. Founded in April 2020, we’re funded by the Home Office by reallocation of the police grant, hosted by Dorset Police and employ around 40 people. We’re the only forensic organisation operating at a national level to enable the work done by police forces, working with private providers and academia. Our remit is focused on embedding quality, sparking innovation, strengthening the market and enhancing local services.

What is the point of FCN?

Forensics is facing many challenges including a lack of accreditation, a fragile marketplace, a digital forensic backlog and skills issues. Many of these problems can’t be solved locally, so FCN exists to combine resources across all 43 forces and do things once on behalf of many.

Who can join FCN?

FCN isn't a membership body so there's no route for organisations or individuals to sign up or become a member. We work directly with police forces and also have good relationships with academic institutions and private-sector companies. If you work in a police force, read about what we offer you. If you're in academia or the private sector, visit our community pages.

How can I commission work from FCN?

If you work in a police force or other law enforcement agency you can request a service or advice from FCN by contacting us through our website. Many of our services are easy to access, such as national guidance published in our library or on Knowledge Hub, and our accreditation support service which is available on request. All new activities will need to be sponsored by an NPCC lead or community leader and approved through our governance. Organisations outside of law enforcement can’t commission work from FCN directly but you can still get involved with FCN. 

How can I get involved with FCN if I work outside of policing?

We work with all types of private-sector providers for physical and digital forensics, including managing contracts and compiling data at a national level. We also work with academic institutions on cutting-edge research projects. Find out more about FCN for the private sector and FCN for academia.

How is FCN funded?

The core FCN team is currently funded by the Home Office through reallocation of the police grant. Our annual budget for 2022/23 is £3.3m. We work on behalf of all 43 police forces in England and Wales, as well as other partners including the British Transport Police, National Crime Agency and Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and Police Scotland.

Who is in charge of FCN?

FCN is hosted by Dorset Police, which holds all the legal and employment responsibilities for the organisation. We report directly into the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Forensic Science Portfolio chaired by Chief Constable Nick Dean. All of FCN’s activities are commissioned by the police community through a robust commissioning process, and we’re steered by reference groups of forensic leaders and Chief Constables in forces. Find out more about our governance.

What has FCN actually delivered for policing?

Since our launch in 2020, FCN has provided a range of services, advice and impact to the whole forensic community. We’ve managed crises in the private marketplace including backlogs and quality issues, we lead on national guidance including Streamlined Forensic Reporting and retention of forensic evidence, we’ve established national groups to validate processes for fire investigation and SARCs, we help several forces successfully prepare for CSI accreditation assessments, we’ve raised more than £300,000 in additional research funding, we’ve hosted more than 20 learning events attended by more than 2,000 people, and much more. Take a closer look at what we do.

What is the difference between FCN and the Transforming Forensics programme?

FCN is the national network for forensics in policing, whereas the NPCC’s Transforming Forensics programme is a temporary programme of activities creating new forensic capabilities for forces. Most of TF’s projects have benefitted from the input of FCN’s experts. For example, TF has created policing’s first national online forensics platform called Xchange, new end-to-end fingerprint capture capability, and a £5m project to help 22 forces tackle RASSO cases. TF and its projects will close by March 2023.

Is FCN trying to replace forensic services delivered in forces locally?

No, we exist to enable and enhance the forensic work done by police forces locally and regionally, for example by providing advice on quality and science-related issues. We help free up resources and time for police forces by running national initiatives which would otherwise have to be done locally, such as validating fire investigation and SARC activities nationally.