South Wales Police and Gwent Police have come together to produce the Joint Scientific Investigation Unit, which will save millions of pounds in public money and provide a better service to victims of crime.
As a single Centre of Excellence working towards ISO accreditation, the new Unit, consisting of staff from both forces will be located in Bridgend at the South Wales Police Headquarters site and also at Rumney Police Station in Cardiff.
It has top-of-the-range equipment and facilities boasting skills and services that many other UK police forces cannot provide. The main departments within the Unit include:
- Drugs Lab (analyses drugs that have been seized by officers
- Glass Lab (analyses clothing or objects to find any shards of glass that links to crime scene)
- Fingerprint Development and Identification Unit (the unit uses a number of techniques including Metal Vacuum Metal Disposition to recover latent fingerprints which are enhanced and compared against a database of fingerprints from people who have been in police custody)
- Footwear Identification Unit (examines footwear impressions)
- Forensics Submissions Unit (Is responsible for the submission of items to commercial forensic providers)
- Forensic Imaging Unit (uses wide ranging technique to produce digital crime scene reconstructions and digital evidence for use in court proceedings)
- NaBIS Clearing House (a link to the NaBIS Hub in Birmingham for weapons recovered from the three Southern Wales Police forces)
- Crime Scene Investigators (recovers forensic evidence from crime scenes)
- Trace Evidence Laboratory (Examines evidence recovered from crimes scenes for traces of blood and other forensic evidence)
- Forensic Sampling Unit (quality assures DNACJ Samples, Fingerprints and footwear impressions taken from people who have been in police custody and submits them for inclusion on national databases)
Ian Brewster, Head of the Joint Scientific Investigation Unit, said,
“We are very proud to announce another area of collaboration between South Wales Police and Gwent Police, which will give us maximum benefits such as pooling our resources, increasing capacity, resilience and the range of services offered to our police officers and major crime teams.
“This new Unit will save in excess of £1million pounds due to rationalisation of jobs in the new joint establishment and in-sourcing of forensic analytical examinations which was previously carried out by external commercial companies.
“Drug examination, glass examination and footwear examination will all be done in-house, therefore providing a faster service to our police officers and major crime departments.
“We will no longer need to send drug seizures to London to be tested which will save money and time, as well as enabling our officers to swiftly charge criminals rather than bailing them back into the community.
“Not only will it save a huge amount of money, it will also be the only Police Scientific Investigation Unit in the UK that can do Glass Investigation and we are one of only three forces in the UK to have a Metal Vacuum Disposition Room with half-a-million pound technology which is vital for recovering latent fingerprint impressions in certain circumstances.
“Traditionally, the out-sourcing of glass examination to commercial companies has been very expensive and as a result, only cases meeting specific criteria could be sent for examination.
“Many crimes in South Wales and Gwent result in glass being smashed, for example, burglaries and thefts of, or from, motor vehicles. The new laboratory will ensure that the glass from more crimes will be examined, resulting in more offenders being brought to justice.”
“The Footwear Identification Unit processes 22,000 custody submissions a year for footwear analysis, these prints are subsequently compared with footwear impressions recovered from crimes scenes. This is a new department which is now working on an impressive scale.
“Our Crime Scene Investigators (CSIs) can now remotely send fingerprints and footprints from their offices to the Fingerprint Identification Unit in Bridgend therefore cutting the process from 6 days to two hours. The joint Unit is also currently investing in technology that will allow CSIs to remotely send this type of evidence direct from their police vehicles at the crime scene, therefore dramatically speeding up the process even more. We will be able to tell local CID detectives and uniformed police officers which person has committed the crime within this impressive time scale.”
Assistant Chief Constable Matt Jukes of the Joint Scientific Investigation Unit said,
“We are delivering truly 21st century forensic science, using our own experts from across two forces. By working together, we are getting fast results from crime scenes to the laboratory and turning these into arrests and prosecutions.”