For the first time, forensic professionals from the police and private sector will undertake DNA analysis from the same site to form a more efficient and effective crime-fighting team.
Police staff from the Forensic Services arm of the East Midlands Special Operations Unit (known as EMSOU-FS) will be the first in the country to share laboratory bench space with staff from outside of policing in order to more quickly identify criminals.
The ground breaking partnership with Cellmark Forensic Services, one of the UK’s leading forensic companies, will see a number of their staff working alongside the EMSOU-FS team, with three scientists based out of a new DNA laboratory in Nottinghamshire.
And the laboratory has now been recommended for accreditation by the UK Accreditation Service (UKAS). This is the first time for a collaboration of this kind and will lead to valuable time being saved on investigations.
The need to transport samples to Cellmark’s laboratories in Oxfordshire and Lancashire will be significantly reduced. This will not only cut the unit’s carbon footprint, but will make it possible to profile urgent cases from the five East Midlands forces of Northamptonshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire within a matter of hours.
The new arrangement will also have a positive impact on other aspects of the forensic process. For example, the fingerprint team will be able to access exhibits for analysis and recovery as soon as the DNA team has finished, also potentially enabling them to turn around results within the same day.
Ultimately, the contract will allow detectives to identify and prosecute suspects, in a range of cases from burglaries to murders, much more quickly
Regional Deputy Chief Constable Martyn Bates said: “DNA profiling is one of the most significant advancements in modern day policing, and it was developed right here in the East Midlands.
“It is not only helping to identify offenders committing today’s crimes, but you may have also heard in the news of cases in which criminals have been convicted years after some of the most serious and violent offences were committed.
“This contract, then, is an innovation in itself. Not only does it mean our DNA samples can be processed more quickly, consistently and to the highest of standards, but it will also bring the scientist and investigator closer together, enabling them to work in the very best interests of each case. In short, it’s going to refine and speed up the investigative process.
These changes also mean we will be saving money, gaining a great deal from working so closely with a global market leader with a wealth of experience and skills to impart, and allowing for other opportunities to integrate and streamline our procedures.
All this can only be of benefit to policing and, ultimately, the safety of people in the East Midlands.”
David Hartshorne, Cellmark's Managing Director, said: “This is a very exciting development which is allowing us to bring our forensic expertise closer to police investigators to deliver an extremely rapid and responsive DNA service. Our forensic partnership with EMSOU-FS is an innovative way of working and we are delighted that UKAS has recommended our laboratory for accreditation.”
DNA profiling was pioneered by Sir Alec Jeffreys at the University of Leicester in 1984 and first used as evidence in court a few years later.
The technique has since been further developed to be quicker and more sensitive.
In 1995 the National DNA Database (NDNAD) was established on which offender DNA profiles are stored and searched. DNA can also be used to exclude individuals from investigations. The match probability for a full profile DNA ‘hit’ is one in a billion.