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Forensics body streamlines focus in final step of transformation

Following on from a shake up last year whereby the oversight of national forensic systems was transferred to BlueLight Commerical and the Police Digital Service, the Forensic Capability Network has now streamlined its remit.

It will now focus on two directorates instead of four and the role of CEO will be replaced by a managing director. 

The restructure is the final stage of a year-long process of transformation for the FCN which was kickstarted by an independent NPCC strategic review into forensics.

Although it now has a commercial team, its focus is on enabling forces to embed and improve forensic quality and science locally. 

The review’s recommendations were taken forward by a group of chief constables and forensic leaders, led by NPCC Forensic Lead, CC Nick Dean and NPCC Forensic Community Reference Group chair, Michelle Painter. 

Within the review, it was proposed that the FCN should have a more focused remit on forensic quality and science.

From September, the two directorates will be forensic science development and quality and performance, meaning the operations and commercial directorates will close, with activities and resources being integrated elsewhere within the organisation. 

It also means current CEO Jo Ashworth will leave FCN, having been in the role since the launch of the body in 2020. 

FCN’s current chief of staff, John Armstrong, will take on the role of interim managing director - having worked in forensics in policing for 38 years including as a Met crime schene investigator. 

NPCC Forensic Lead, Chief Constable Nick Dean, said: “I would like to extend a huge thank you to Jo Ashworth as she leaves FCN. She has been a fantastic leader with real resilience, and has supported me over the past year since I took on the forensic portfolio.

“The completion of FCN’s new structure marks an important line in the sand – FCN’s recommendations from last year’s review have now been implemented. The team has a new remit, a new structure, and is ready to deliver.”

At the moment, FCN is hosted by Dorset Police and funded by the Home Office through reallocation of the police grant. Its total budget this year is around £3.7m.

Work is underway between Dorset Police, NPCC, Home Office and FCN to develop long-term arrangements for funding and hosting.

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