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South west forces working together to strengthen policing

In 2014 four forces Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset and Wiltshire brought together their scientific forensics services to form the South West Forensics Collaboration.

Since then, using the opportunities created by bringing together these resources, the forces have overseen improvements in crime scene investigation, digital forensics and identification services, delivered through a model which sees staff remain locally based.

In the latest move to further strengthen the effectiveness of this collaboration, Avon and Somerset Police and Devon and Cornwall Police will transfer the employment of its forensics staff to Dorset Police. Although staff will remain locally based, continuing to support policing in local communities across Avon and Somerset and Devon and Cornwall, the move to a single employer will provide consistent working practices and simplify the collaboration’s operating model.

Chief officer for the south west forensics collaboration, ACC Damian Kearney, said: “This welcome move, which reinforces the collective investment in collaboration by the forces involved, will see over 300 forensic staff employed by Dorset Police on behalf of the region, reducing bureaucracy and streamlining working practices. The transfer of employment will take place by October 2019.”

Dorset’s chief constable, James Vaughan, is the national police lead on forensics, providing additional support and grounds for Dorset to host the regional forensic collaboration.

Although Wiltshire Police has decided against transferring the employment of its staff to Dorset Police, the force will remain a full member of the south west forensics collaboration and working practices will be aligned as part of the new arrangements.

Alison Hernandez, Devon and Cornwall’s police and crime commissioner, said: “The move to one employer has been driven by management as the best option to deliver an efficient forensic service and staff welfare is at the heart of the decision. I believe that Dorset is best placed to deliver an excellent forensics service as Chief Constable James Vaughan has been involved at a national level from the very beginning and I am sure he can give effective leadership to the team.”