Ground-Breaking Forensic Academy
Launched in Lancashire
Lancashire Constabulary and the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have entered into a strategic partnership that will enhance forensic science services in Lancashire
This is the first collaboration of its kind within policing and forensic science, where forensic experts and students will work alongside each other in new purpose-built facilities to research, investigate and deliver forensic science services in Lancashire.
The agreement cements the plans for the Academy, which will be based at Lancashire Constabulary HQ in Hutton. The new facilities will include state-of-the-art research laboratories, equipment, teaching and training suites, alongside crime scene houses, accommodation and conferencing.
Under the new agreement, the Constabulary will open its doors to the University which will benefit from shared expertise of crime scene investigators and forensic science specialists teaching students everything from fingerprint, drug and body fluid analysis through to professional accreditation and laboratory competence.
In return, UCLan will support the academy with new equipment, research and additional resources throughout the department to enhance how Lancashire Constabulary detects crime and protects the most vulnerable people of Lancashire.
This is a ground-breaking initiative for Lancashire Constabulary and during a time when police forces are looking at ways to collaborate with other forces and regionalise forensic science services, it has opted to keep a clear focus on how it can improve its delivery here in Lancashire and joining up with UCLan provides them with some fantastic opportunities.
The project is part of the force’s commitment to innovation and has attracted a £multi-million investment from UCLan to support its forensic science department as part of the new venture.
New investments will see facilities improved and enhanced, as well as enabling the Constabulary to make significant savings that it would have otherwise had to find elsewhere.
Rob Flanagan, innovation manager for Lancashire Constabulary said: “This is a new way of delivering savings within the organisation, while maintaining our same high standards of forensic service with the greatest skills and expertise we have to offer.
“Innovation allows us to focus on continuous improvement across all areas of the organisation and where we feel it is right, attract our strongest partners to work closer with us to protect people and deliver value for money services.”
“UCLan has worked with us for many years in our research and evaluation. This new relationship brings us closer together during a time when policing and academia are driving up professional standards.”
There are big plans for the future of the Academy too; including providing accredited learning for forensic scientists and crime scene investigators with a view that it will attract the very best, talented students and forensic experts into Lancashire.
Eight customs officers have already become the first to undertake specialist training through the Academy. The forensic officers, from Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmo, spent five days undergoing theory and practical training.
The continuing professional development (CPD) course included fingerprint enhancement and recovery techniques, fingerprint photography with ultra violet light, crime scene examination, vehicle examination and enhancement of fingerprints using various chemical treatments.
Customs team-leader Aleksandar Pavkovic said: “Our job back in Sweden is all about fingerprint recovery from vehicles and narcotics to laboratory work with DNA. This course has been about continuing to develop our specialist technical skills because the last time we did anything of this kind was about seven years ago. We are trying to catch-up on forensic science in Sweden because we don’t have this kind of education and facilities back home.”
He added: “We’ve been made to feel so welcome in Preston, we’re really happy we’ve been here, and we’ve learned so much. We’ve already discussed the possibility of future training courses.”
The visit occurred after UCLan academics met Aleksandar at an industry event. They kept in contact and heard of the University’s plans to offer CPD courses through the ground-breaking Lancashire Forensic Science Academy.
Kev Pritchard, senior lecturer in UCLan’s School of Forensic and Applied Sciences, said: “It’s a historic moment for Lancashire Forensic Science Academy with us welcoming the first group of CPD students to Preston. This course has been a great mix of us delivering academic lectures and classroom-based activities while Lancashire Constabulary has been able to have input with the practical elements.”
“It’s also been a two-way process as we’ve learned from them and vice-versa. It’s been interesting to see what they do differently, for example they use moulds to lift fingerprints instead of tape. CPD is a necessary part of working in forensics so we’re delighted this week has been a success and we look forward to working with others in the future.”