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Forensics

Forensic science is used to support the investigation of crime. It can be used to provide evidence to support or refute an allegation, a version of events, or a suspect's involvement in an offence.

Forensics van Forensics in Staffordshire keep our communities safe and reassured; assisting investigations into criminal activity by delivering the highest level of service from crime scene to court; including the:

  • development and delivery effective forensic strategies that ensure the requirements of the criminal justice system (CJS) are met and that best value is obtained from the available forensic resources
  • effective search and recovery of physical and digital evidence
  • provision of forensic intelligence information
  • timely and objective examination of physical and digital exhibits for evidence
  • development, classification, comparison and identification of marks and impressions
  • capture, examination and enhancement of images, audio and CCTV
  • the preparation and provision of professional and expert witness evidence for the CJS

Staffordshire Police are now fully engaged in the Staffordshire Forensic Partnership, you can visit their area on Staffordshire University Website by clicking here.

Structure

The Department is directed by the Head of Forensics and incorporates four Units, each led by a Strategic Manager:

Digital Services

The Digital Services Department consists of the following dedicated units:

Imaging, Audio and CCTV
Provides advice and specialist forensic capability to extract electronic data from electronic devices and their periphery items specialising in forensic imaging and audio to aid the investigation of crime. Investigators produce evidential hard copy images from digital and analogue recording devices using image and audio enhancement techniques with specialist processing and editing tools in accordance with best evidence.
They are also responsible for the recovery, processing and presentation of CCTV evidence for major crime and complex cases and cameras installed in custodies. The unit also carries out installation, servicing and maintenance of cameras across the force.

Mobile Phone Forensics
The provision of forensic mobile phone examination for all serious acquisitive crime, all serious arrestable offences, drugs offences and missing person and suicide cases. Examiners use a wide range of techniques and technology to interrogate mobile phone and smart phone handsets in order to secure vital evidence for investigations.

Computer Forensics
Provision of detailed forensic computer examination in order to recover and secure evidence of criminal activity through software, hardware and internet usage in major and serious crime, offences committed against the vulnerable, fraud and deception, and drugs offences. Evidential packages produced for court for a range of prescribed offences.

Operation Safenet
Operation Safenet sees a team of officers come together to deal with and reduce the threat, risk and harm posed by online child sexual exploitation. Officers will attend addresses with digital forensics staff in order to charge offenders in the first custody phase. The digital forensics team are able to triage exhibits at the scene using the latest technology and provide early evidence to investigating officers. This has less impact on families and early safeguarding measures can be put in place for the victims.

Fingerprints

Fingerprint Bureau EditedThe Fingerprint Bureau has a team of dedicated Fingerprint Experts and Tenprint Assistants who are responsible for analysing and evaluating fingerprints recovered from crime scenes and exhibits submitted to the Forensic Recovery Unit.

They utilise the national fingerprint identification system (IDENT1) to compare crime scene marks against the national criminal records database which holds approximately 15 million sets of prints. Fingerprint Experts also provide evidence of opinion for court and specialist advice to stakeholders and customers on all fingerprint matters. The bureau searches and compares crime scene marks relating to all types of major, serious and violent crime, serious acquisitive crime, harassment, fraud and drugs offences. The bureau works to maintain high standards of quality in its processes and procedures and has held ISO 9001 certification since 1997.

To arrange to have your fingerprints taken for a travel visa click here.

Forensic Investigation

This department provides specialist objective advice and expertise to assist colleagues in maximising forensic opportunities through the investigation of crime scenes such as burglary and major crime. They utilise a full range of forensic knowledge and techniques including: recovery of fingerprints, footwear and DNA, photography and other methods of recording and securing evidence to inform investigations and identify offenders.

The Forensic Investigation department will jointly devise and deliver an effective forensic strategy with an investigator before the recovery of evidence at a crime scene and be available to present that evidence in the best form for further examination and presentation to the court at the end of an investigation. They attend a diverse range of scenes including murder, rape, robbery, attendance at post mortems, unexplained deaths, suicides and fatal road traffic accidents, burglary, vehicle crime, drugs offences, criminal damage and arson.

Forensic Services

Forensic Services is based at Police Headquarters and comprises of a number of work areas that deliver detailed forensic strategy development, case management, quality standards, performance, training, technical management for DNA, footwear and mark enhancement services and the following lab based activities:

  • Fingerprint enhancement
  • Footwear coding, intelligence and screening
  • DNA recovery

Forensic Submissions

Forensic Submissions is the central point for the force for advice, support and access to a wide variety of forensic disciplines.

By assessing the individual circumstances of all types of cases for investigative requirement, community impact and forensic potential, Forensic Submissions negotiate and agree forensic strategy and commission analysis to ensure both the requirements of the Criminal Justice System are met and that best value is obtained from the available forensic resources.

They also coordinate the logistics of exhibits to both internal experts and external Forensic Service Providers (FSPs) maintaining continuity and integrity of the evidence.

Forensic Submissions also manage the technical procurement activity, contract or SLA adherence and expenditure for all outsourced forensic services for Staffordshire Police.

Forensic Footwear Unit (FFU)

forensic footprint analysisForensic evidence from footwear marks left at crime scenes can provide significant evidence to demonstrate activity of individuals and a sequence of events in relation to a criminal offence. Footwear evidence is a powerful tool to show that a shoe made a particular mark within a crime scene and to provide a link between multiple crime scenes. Depending on the circumstances of the offence, footwear evidence can also offer a time period of when it was likely to have been deposited, for example, by being left in a specific substrate, such as marks in blood.

The FFU provide technical advice and support to the force on footwear evidence. Footwear coding, intelligence and screening services are provided by the Forensic Footwear Unit (FFU) within Staffordshire Police with any evidential requirements being supplied by an external contracted Forensic Service Provider (FSP).

The FFU are currently ISO 17025 accredited for footwear coding and are in the process of seeking accreditation for intelligence provision and screening. For more detail on accreditation status please contact the FFU.

Forensic Recovery Unit (FRU)

The Forensic Recovery Unit is responsible for the examination of scenes and exhibits to either enhance fingerprint and footwear marks or identify and recover potential DNA material to support criminal investigations.

Mark enhancement is achieved by the application of chemicals and/or powders to different surfaces which adhere to marks making them more visible and detailed. Enhanced marks are then examined by the FRU and, if considered suitable, they are captured and forwarded to the relevant forensic expert for further analysis and expert opinion.

The examination and recovery of potential DNA material is conducted in a specialist DNA clean laboratory to ensure the integrity of any recovered material. Recovered material is submitted to a contracted external forensic service provider for further processing and analysis.

The FRU are currently ISO 17025 accredited for a number of mark enhancement and capture techniques as well as DNA examination and recovery in some cases. For more detail on accreditation status please contact the FRU.

Quality Services, Performance and Training

The Quality Services team are responsible for managing the strategic direction and development of Quality, Performance and Training for the Forensic Department.

Primarily they manage the implementation and maintenance of ISO 9001, 17020 and 17025 quality standards and the Forensic Regulator's Codes of Practice in specific units across the Department to ensure compliance with mandated milestones.

This involves managing and maintaining a quality management system (QMS) for the Forensics department which includes but is not limited to:

  • Issue, archive and version control of standard operating procedures.
  • Validation and verification records for technical processes.
  • Maintain competency records for staff.
  • Management of quality assurance eg, internal and external audits, proficiency testing participation.
  • Monitoring customer satisfaction, feedback and resolution of issues to inform and promote continuous improvement.

In addition to this, the Quality Services team monitor and quality assure Force performance with regards to Forensics and Home Office data returns; highlighting good and poor performance. They also work closely with Forensics managers and supervisors and Learning and Development to monitor continuous personal development for all staff within the Forensics Department in line with National Occupational Standards.

Coroner's Office

Our Coroner's Officers provide specialist advice in an ethical and empathic manner in accordance with appropriate legislation, policies and procedures.

The Police Coroners are split into two teams, one team supports the HM Coroner Mr Smith in the North, whilst the second team supports HM Coroner Mr Haigh in South of the County.

The key aims are:

  • To assist and support the HM Coroner and the police in their investigation of unnatural deaths within their jurisdiction and to determine whether or not an inquest is required.
  • To liaise with bereaved families, medical professionals, witnesses, and police officers in order to ascertain identity.
  • Removal of bodies so that Coroner's cases are dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Their focus will be on issues of quality in respect of completing paperwork:

  • To ensure that all the circumstances and details of sudden/suspicious deaths are correctly registered and investigated.
  • Identification of deceased and details of the next of kin obtained and recorded.
  • Medical history, occupation and medication taken by deceased.
  • Any marks or injuries found on deceased noted.
  • To ensure all paperwork is submitted as soon as possible.

Our Service

Staffordshire Coroner's Officers offer an emergency out of hours service to cover the whole of Staffordshire County. Contact can be made with the nominated person via the Duty Officer in the Police Area Communications Room. This service is available 7 days a week. The aim of this initiative is to provide a better needs-based service to ensure that all sudden, unexpected and suspicious deaths are investigated through the police thus assisting other partners with procedural and registration issues.