The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), Lancashire Constabulary and the Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner have officially opened a state-of-the-art facility to shape the next generation of forensic scientists and significantly enhance services across the region and beyond.
Believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, the ground-breaking Lancashire Forensic Science Academy will allow forensic experts and students to work alongside each other in new, purpose-built police facilities to research, investigate and deliver forensic science services.
The Academy, based at Lancashire Constabulary HQ in Hutton, boasts a suite of state-of-the-art research laboratories to facilitate training, education and research into forensic disciplines such as footwear examination, fingerprints, drugs analysis and biology. It even houses its own purpose made laboratory for research and training in the area of blood pattern analysis. The Academy facility also provides access to crime scene houses and vehicles for examination for those interested in following a career path in crime scene investigation.
Access to the professional expertise of crime scene investigators and forensic science experts provides UCLan students with invaluable experience of what being employed in these roles entails on a daily basis.
The partnership will also allow Lancashire Constabulary to remain at the forefront of forensic advancements by working with the University on industry focused research projects; potentially challenging previous thinking and leading to improved service.
Andy Rhodes, Chief Constable of Lancashire, said: “This is a ground-breaking initiative for Lancashire Constabulary and something we are really excited about.
“The Academy brings state-of-the-art forensic facilities, academics with the very latest forensic science knowledge and the expertise of our own crime scene investigators all together on one site which can only enhance our work to help solve crime and keep local people safe.”
The relationship between the Constabulary and UCLan sees an investment by both parties of more than £10 million over the next 10 years. This includes significant investment of more than £1 million to deliver the state of the art facilities which are at the core of the delivery of this innovative partnership.
Lancashire Forensic Science Academy Manager Nik Smith said: “This pioneering venture further cement’s UCLan’s longstanding relationship with Lancashire Constabulary. It will really give UCLan students the edge as they work side-by-side with industry professionals in an operational policing environment as well as helping to shape the forensic and policing teaching curriculum as the profession evolves.
“There are a number of collaborations within forensic science. However, this is the first time a university will be co-located within an operational forensic lab at police premises, where students and professionals will work alongside each other to deliver forensic services, teaching, training and research.”
Clive Grunshaw, Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “It is fantastic to see the official launch of the academy, which is the culmination of a great deal of work to deliver what is a pioneering centre which will attract the best forensic teams in the country.
“We are already seeing the operational benefits from this collaboration, which is a fantastic example of partnership working in action. We are always looking to innovate in ways which help to deliver the best possible service for the people of Lancashire."
David Taylor, Pro-Chancellor and Chair of the UCLan Board, added: “This exciting partnership allows Lancashire Constabulary to better support the community it serves. By combining the state-of-the art forensic equipment at the Academy and UCLan’s research capabilities, we can ensure the Force continues to push the boundaries in finding the best ways to detect and investigate crime.
“We believe this venture to be the first of its kind in the world. It has been made possible through a vision to recognise the value each organisation has to offer and bring those talents together into one place – The Forensic Science Academy.”