The main purpose is to provide the Police Service of Northern Ireland, with access to a high quality effective and efficient forensic capability, delivered within a timely manner, to help maximise scientific opportunities to assist in the identification of offenders and improve public confidence. The branch consists of a number of sub branches.
The Biometrics Team is responsible for the delivery of the PSNI’s 5 year Biometric Programme which is an essential contribution to the overarching forensic strategy.
The Biometric Programme will deliver the incorporation of biometric technology into the PSNI’s core forensic function.
The Biometrics Programme interacts with other UK biometrics stakeholders as part of national programmes and projects and continually ‘horizon scans’ and assesses emerging biometric technologies.
The Biometrics Team are engaged in ensuring that biometric sampling of offenders is maximised and that the current retention of biometric data is lawful and processed in a clear and transparent manner whilst also preparing for forthcoming legislative changes in this arena.
The Fingerprint Bureau provides technical support to PSNI through recording, comparing and identifying people by means of fingerprints and footwear. These teams search and compare scene of crime marks, from scene locations and those that have been developed on retrieved articles in an attempt to identify individuals.
It can take up to 5 years to be become competent as a fingerprint expert and once qualified can provide expert opinion in court.
The Fingerprint Experts work in teams, either in one of the Scene of Crime sections, examining marks lifted by CSI at scenes or in the Main Collection, maintaining the fingerprint collection for Northern Ireland.
The PSNI Fingerprint Enhancement Laboratory (FEL) is a specialised facility, dedicated to examine, develop and retrieve latent finger and palm prints from a wide range of items from crime scenes.
Our Forensic Laboratory Officers use a range of chemical, powder and forensic techniques to maximise recovery of latent (not visible to the eye) imprints.
The PSNI Footwear unit process and code every set of Printscans taken in the custody suites around Northern Ireland.
Each suspect’s record is linked to the particular shoes that they are wearing.
This enables the Footwear Coding Officer to link marks identified at crime scenes to potential suspects.
Crime Scene Investigators contribute directly to the PSNI purpose of Keeping People Safe by providing an effective crime scene investigation capability.
Provide direction, evaluation and guidance to initial Response Officers at scene cordons regarding management of access and evidence preservation.
Identify and assess forensic opportunities, devise a flexible and effective scene investigation plan to ensure that all potential evidence is located, preserved, recorded and recovered.
Brief Investigating Officers on findings and provide ongoing direction on actions required by them with regard to evidence recovered and attendance of other relevant agencies.
Provide professional advice and guidance on further/specialist forensic examinations required. Provide regular advice and guidance to Police Officers in recovery and packaging of exhibits.
Liaise with Local Police to identify any issues from ongoing incident
Mapping Section’s primary function is to attend serious crime scenes and road traffic collision incidents to record the scene and evidence in situ. This is done using a variety of surveying techniques and equipment.
From the information gathered from scenes and the measurements taken by our Crime Scene Surveyors, we use specialist drawing software to produce scaled maps and plans of crime scenes. These can be used to aid the investigative process but also during the prosecution of crime through the courts.
The maps and plans we provide are used in the courtroom in tandem with photographs from our Specialist Photography Service to allow the Judge, Jury and Barristers to view, experience and have an understanding of the crime scene.
The primary role of our job is to visually record serious crime scenes and road traffic collisions where there is a fatality or serious injury.
We use a variety of modern digital imaging techniques including stills, video and aerial imagery using drones. These are evidential photos that can be used as part of an investigation or to illustrate a case in court, and can be subsequently incorporated into other presentation packages and techniques, and shared around our police and Criminal Justice colleagues.
In addition to our core role of supporting PSNI, we work significantly in partnership with the State Pathologist, NCA, Forensic Science NI, Health & Safety Executive and HMRC.
Forensic services form a crucial part of the police investigative process and must meet the high professional standard that is expected by the public.
A programme of regulation has been introduced by the Forensic Science Regulator through accreditation to the international standards ISO 17025 and ISO 17020, and national codes of practice and conduct.
The Identification Bureau which includes Footwear Unit, FEL and Fingerprint Bureau has attained accreditation to BS EN ISO/IEC 17025:2017 Quality Management System.
Crime Scene Investigation previously attained certification to BS EN ISO 9001:2015 and are now currently working towards attainment of BS EN ISO/IEC 17020:2012 Quality Management System accreditation.
PSNI’s Forensic Gateway aims to provide excellence in the provision of forensic examination
services to the officers and staff of PSNI and the Criminal Justice System. The Unit is made up of highly trained specialist staff, working together with the investigating officers and forensic scientists to ensure that the best evidential opportunities are exploited in each investigation.
The Forensic Gateway is always researching and piloting new evidential techniques with the aim of providing faster more effective forensic support.