The University of Dundee has been granted a £10m award by the Leverhulme Trust to establish a Research Centre for Forensic Science, aimed at shaping the future of the subject and ensuring it remains a vital component of the criminal justice system.
Dundee is one of four UK universities – alongside Cambridge, Liverpool and Sheffield – to win the new Leverhulme Research Centre awards. Each centre will be funded for up to £10 million over 10 years, to support fundamental cross-disciplinary research.
The award to Dundee builds on the university’s international reputation as a centre of excellence in forensic science. The new centre will be led by Professor Sue Black, director of the university’s Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification.
“I am delighted that the Leverhulme Trust has decided to make such a major investment in our work here at Dundee,” said Professor Black. “This really is recognition of our standing as one of the world’s leading centres for research in forensic science.”
“Forensic science is a highly valued component of the criminal justice system but it is widely recognised to be in crisis. We have research gaps in a range of evidence types, from fingerprinting to DNA analysis, and we have to raise the bar in the standards of science underpinning these vital techniques.
“We will work across the forensic science and judicial landscapes and communities to address the existing research gaps, unlock enterprise potential with industry and restore public and judicial confidence in forensic science.”
The announcement came just a month before the first report of the Forensic Science Regulator, Dr Gillian Tully, who over the past year has published guidance and standards on a range of specialist areas – including bloodstain pattern analysis, fingerprint comparison and cognitive bias effects relevant to forensic science examinations.
Dr Tully said: “Progress has been made in the quality of forensic science, but we cannot be complacent – there is more to do. Quality must be an integral part of all forensic science and, however challenging the financial situation, cannot be seen as an optional extra or expensive add-on. That is why I am working to ensure that appropriate quality standards are in place for all forensic disciplines and that all providers are fully compliant.
“Many forensic service providers across all sectors are already compliant with the standards. However, the report highlights key areas for developing guidance and a path for accreditation, including digital forensics and classification of firearms.”