£400,000 funding will help police use DNA to identify suspects fast

Almost 1,500 children across Notts had their DNA tkaen by police in 2011.
Almost 1,500 children across Notts had their DNA tkaen by police in 2011.

DNA profiles could be obtained from Lancashire crime scenes in a matter of hoursfollowing a £400,000 funding boost.

Lancashire’s Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) submitted a successful bid to the Home Office’s Police Innovation Fund for £431,000 to trial the technology.

Currently it takes up to five days after the laboratory receives a sample to obtain a DNA profile fro m the National DNA database.

It is only at this point police can use the profiles tohelp identify suspects.

The county was one of several areas which applied for funding to test out the new technology, and Clive Grunshaw said he was delighted Lancashire had been selected to trial RapidHIT DNA technology in the county.

The Commissioner said: “Technology which will enable police officers to carry out their roles quicker and more effectively is vital to the future success of the force, and this Home Office funding gives Lancashire the opportunity to be at the forefront of a project which will do just that.

“Ultimately, when a crime happens the public want and expect Lancashire Constabulary to solve it as quickly as possible – and if RapidHIT DNA can be implemented in Lancashire it will help that to happen. It will improve public confidence, free up officer time and allow offenders to be charged quicker.

“Bids to the Police Innovation Fund are very competitive, and therefore it is a real testament to Lancashire Constabulary that we were successful in bidding for such a large sum of money, for such an exciting project.”

Nottinghamshire PCC also successfully bid to trial RapidHIT DNA, and the Home Office now want the two forces to work together on the project to establish the best, most cost-effective way for police forces to use this technology – which has so far only been tested in a laboratory.

RapidHIT DNA would remove the need for the sample to be sent to a lab, and could see the time taken to obtain a DNA profile from a crime scene reduced to a matter of hours.

Dr Kath Mashiter, Scientific Support Manager for Lancashire Constabulary, said: “We are absolutely delighted that our bid for Innovation Funding has been successful.

“The funding will give us the opportunity to “test out” RapidHIT DNA technology in order to establish the most cost-effective means of using this equipment.

“The aim of this project is to fully evaluate the equipment for the benefit of ourselves and police forces and agencies nationwide in order to significantly impact upon the way that forensic science supports policing in the future.”

During the trial, which will last six months, the RapidHIT DNA technology will be used during “real life” investigations in Lancashire to assess how it works best, its reliability and the cost benefits of using this technology.

The project will then be evaluated for a further six months with the intention of fully integrating it in Lancashire, if the trial has proved a success.