Thames Valley Police and the region’s police and crime commissioner have unveiled plans for a new forensics centre in Bicester.
They said it will become the main forensics hub for the force, containing laboratories, new digital technologies and dedicated training facilities.
Cherwell District Council’s planning committee has resolved to grant planning permission for the centre on land owned by the force near Avonbury Business Park, subject to the completion of a Section 106 agreement.
The move is part of the force’s three-year Forensic Improvement Programme. Construction is expected to begin in the summer and be completed in winter 2024-25.
Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber said: “The programme is the result of a review of Thames Valley Police’s forensics services as a whole where we’ve identified the need to modernise facilities and increase capacity.
“In a world of rapidly advancing technology, ensuring the police stay on the cutting edge of forensics is crucial to keeping the public safe. Whether crimes such as burglaries, sexual offences or digital crimes the police need to get ahead of the criminals.”
Other elements of the programme include investment in frontline digital forensics tools and systems, adoption of new technologies to speed up the examination of evidence, resources to support forensic accreditation, and recruitment of additional staff for the Forensic Investigation Unit.
Kay Hannam, head of forensic services at Thames Valley Police, said: “This critical investment will support forensic services across the board from adopting new technologies, developing our people and ensuring legitimacy into the criminal justice system.
“Underpinning this programme of growth is our proposed new purpose built accommodation that will bring specialisms together under one roof. Here we will have the flexibility to expand our services to meet existing and future demand.”