Thames Valley Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner has revealed plans for a new forensics centre as part of a wider improvement programme to transform forensic services across the force area. The purpose-built centre in Bicester will become the main forensics hub for the force, containing laboratories, new digital technologies and dedicated training facilities.
The Forensic Improvement Programme will see significant investment over the next three years to transform Thames Valley Police’s forensic services, improving investigations and the outcomes for victims.
Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Barber spoke about the plans. “The programme is the result of a review of Thames Valley Police’s forensics services as a whole where we’ve identified the need to modernise facilities and increase capacity. In a world of rapidly advancing technology, ensuring the police stay on the cutting edge of forensics is crucial to keeping the public safe.”
The plans received planning permission subject to a Section 106 agreement, with construction expected to commence in the summer and complete during winter 2024/2025. Willmott Dixon has been selected as the preferred contractors and Atkins as the design consultants.
Forensics improvement programme
The investment in a new forensics centre is part of a wider improvement programme that includes investment in new front-line digital forensic tools and systems to give investigating officers better and faster access to digital evidence and the adoption of new technologies to speed up examination of evidence. The force will also recruit additional forensic staff across its Forensic Investigation Unit to provide a better service at the point of need.
Kay Hannam is Head of Forensic Services at Thames Valley Police. She explained, “Forensic science can be the key to an investigation, in getting a case to court and delivering a timely outcome for the victim. This critical investment will support forensic services across the board from adopting new technologies, developing our people and ensuring legitimacy into the criminal justice system. It is an ambitious programme, but it is an exciting time for Thames Valley’s forensic unit. Once complete it will provide our officers, partner organisations and most importantly our victims with market leading, cost effective and high-quality services.”