A new forensic science ‘centre of excellence’ has been officially opened at Cranfield University. The facilities at Cranfield Forensic Institute (CFI) are among some of the very best in the world and investment has been targeted in the fields of crime scene investigation, digital forensic investigation and forensic materials analysis, amongst others. The new facilities are considered vital in boosting the role science plays in the criminal justice system, enabling the transfer of the latest leading academic knowledge to criminal investigators and training the next generation of forensic scientists.

In May 2019, a report by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee highlighted a critical national shortfall in forensic science research and development. The new facilities at Cranfield are set to be game-changing for the nation’s capabilities and greatly enhance the UK’s position in these fields.

Students and staff will have access to new facilities such as a virtual reality autopsy table, digital forensics laboratory, crime scene investigation rooms and a simulated mass grave excavation site. The development of the facilities has been made possible with £3.6 million of funding from SEMLEP through the Local Growth Fund, alongside investment from Cranfield University.

The facilities were officially opened by Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick.

Recently, Cranfield announced a strategic partnership with experienced digital forensic practitioners CCL Solutions Group. CCL and Cranfield have partnered to create a new MSc in Digital Forensics and are working on a number of research proposals to address emerging issues and opportunities in the field.

Professor Andrew Shortland, Director of Cranfield Forensic Institute, said: “Forensic science plays a critical part in the criminal justice system and we are proud to be playing our part in enhancing the nation’s capabilities in this field.

“The investment in these new technologies will create unparalleled facilities for our students and staff, as we develop the next generation of forensic scientists and, through our research,  expand the possibilities of forensic science.

“Together with our partnership with CCL, these facilities have the potential to transform the UK’s forensic science education and research.”

Professor Sir Peter Gregson, Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor of Cranfield University, said: “Our thanks go to SEMLEP and the staff at Cranfield Defence and Security for realising this vision of a leading forensic science facility. We are deeply honoured to be playing our part supporting the nation’s policing and security, through our research and education."

Hilary Chipping, Chief Executive at SEMLEP, said: “Alongside the value that work happening in this new institute will bring to the criminal justice system, it provides a great platform for fostering the development of, and accelerating the commercial opportunities for, local businesses working in the forensic space and therefore providing opportunities for employment for people with digital skills.”