We are currently experiencing network problems with the desktop version of Police Oracle. We hope to have these resolved as soon as possible.

Forensic standardisation to facilitate closer police and fire working

New forensic regulation legislation alongside an incoming refreshed code of practice will help police and fire work together to maximise arson convictions.

The implementation of new forensic regulation legislation, alongside a refreshed Statutory Code of Practice and Conduct, will enable closer collaboration between police and fire. 

The Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service explained to Police Oracle that it will help maximise arson convictions.  

The new forensic regulation legislation has outlined the need for both services to gain accreditation meeting the requirements of the International Standards Organisation (ISO:17020). 

It will mean the two agencies will be able to work together better to maximise the recovery of trace forensic evidence in a fire scene. 

Fire service staff will retain independence when reporting to the courts. 

In Durham, the Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS) have worked closely with Durham Constabulary as a joint Fire Investigation Team since 2002. 

Lee Aspery, Community Safety and Arson Reduction Manager at CDDFRS told Police Oracle that ISO fundamentally will set the practice and procedure that will be followed and UKAS will provide the accreditation. 

He said: “What they want to be able to achieve is that either side of that (police-fire) coin, although we're already working in partnership and in the same scene, that our systems, procedures, cross contamination, mitigation, everything is identical, repetitious and you can't get it wrong.

“And it's to ensure that whatever case we then take to court is obviously tested to that standard.”

He added that for fire investigations specifically, where the normal process might run A-B-C-D-E, the risks inherent to a fire scene sometimes mean you can’t do that in a linear format. 

The standardised process will nonetheless ensure that every check and balance is adhered to. 

Meanwhile, for the accreditation not only will everyone need to be trained sufficiently, but further there will need to be regular assessments of team members.

Since 2002, Durham’s joint investigation team took some parts of a CSI course (fingerprints, DNA) to teach to the fire investigators in a “light way”.

Mr Aspery, also responsible for fire investigations, explained: “That said, what you definitely had was the fire investigators doing one thing, and the CSIs is doing another. There was some commonality, but equally you still have that situation where you're thinking, ‘why did you do it that way?’ Or, if you're doing it like that, does that have a knock-on effect or anything else that we're planning to do?'

“There was always that negotiation on the ground, and quite often you would have a bit of a no-man's land between the two services with regards to who’s responsible for what. 

“One of the key differences between the two services working together is obviously we’re going to through a lot of water on the fire scene. 

“What you're looking for in terms of trace evidence, fingerprints, DNA, evidence of ignitable liquids - that is there but now in a much, much reduced format.

“It's not just you're looking for a needle in the haystack but that someone's driven over that haystack."

Mr Aspery added that now the two agencies have one IT system, and ISO gives the quality management system that sits underneath it. 

Nick Graham, Quality Manager at Durham Constabulary, said: “With the introduction of the new statutory codes holding the forensic industry to a higher standard we look forward to working with CDDFRS to support our communities by ensuring evidence produced is of a high standard and falls under accreditation”.

Police Oracle understands the new code of conduct is due to officially be in place by October.

Leave a Comment
In Other News
Emergency service collab initiative helps people “previously unreached”
Force develops platform to share real time intelligence with security firms
Report highlights use of 'early help officers' in multi-agency response
More News