Forensic science facility opens in Scotland

Scotland's first purpose-built forensic science laboratory in almost 15 years has officially opened today

 

The new £23.3 million facility will be the professional home to more than 100 forensic science experts and 30 ICT specialists from the Scottish Police Services Authority (SPSA).

The five-story, 50,000 square foot facility on the Dundee One site will provide many of the latest crime-fighting technologies and will feature a photographic studio, biology, drugs and chemistry laboratories, fingerprint and scene examination units, the DNA robot, and the Scottish DNA Database.

The new Rushton Court facility has been named after the late Doctor Donald Rushton, a pioneering forensic pathologist, who was one of the first individuals to introduce forensic science into the Dundee area.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:

"The Scottish Government is fully committed to providing a well resourced police service. But that commitment does not stop with delivering more police on our streets - we recognise the crucial role played by the SPSA in bringing criminals to justice.

"I am proud of the excellent work done by SPSA's expert forensic scientists. Forensic science has come a long way since Dr Rushton started his pioneering work in Dundee in the 1960s and I am delighted that the Scottish Government has been able to provide this state of the art facility in the city.

"These facilities will improve our ability to gather and analyse evidence found at crime scenes - and to help solve the full range of crimes from house breaking to the most serious crimes of all."

Tom Nelson, Director of SPSA Forensic Services said:

"For years our forensic science experts have been working in spaces that were cramped and overcrowded. The new facility provides our experts with a bespoke working environment that fits their specific needs and that is also adaptable to changing demands.

"The laboratories and enhanced facilities will enable us to take forensic science in new and exciting directions, supporting advances in academic and technical knowledge, while providing an effective service to our customers across Scottish policing.

"Much work has been done to develop this state of the art facility and I am delighted with the final result which can be counted among one of the best in the UK."

Every square inch of the new facility has been carefully designed to optimise the control of evidence and to give the SPSA's highly-skilled forensic staff the opportunity to make their best contribution to the fight against crime.

The new suite of laboratories are flooded with bright, natural light - the best environment for forensic examination and benefit from a range of high-spec measures designed to protect the chain of evidence, including controlled air pressure to minimise and eliminate the risk of contamination, close control of environmental conditions to support temperature sensitive equipment and specialist ante rooms adjacent to each main laboratory to limit and control access.

For the first time forensic experts will have access to a cutting-edge laboratory space specifically designed for carrying out blood pattern experiments, a method used by forensic scientists to get the crime scene to tell a story. The new blood pattern room provides a sterile, wipe clean environment in which Dundee experts can reconstruct events. From the examination of the blood - where it lands and the size and shape of the droplets or spatter - experts can determine significant aspects of the crime such as how a person was injured, the degree of force used or even the type of weapon used.

Specialist areas for the examination of large items such as doors and vehicles are also a new feature in the facility. The rooms, which have been fitted with black magnetic walls and infra-red lighting, will enable scientists to carry out specialised examinations and techniques and interrogate a wide variety of materials that are not possible at a crime scene.

The provision of a wet examination room will facilitate the use of new techniques for the recovery of fingerprints on plastics, while general search labs will be used for body fluid examinations and DNA analysis.

Source: ©Scottish Government

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