Specialist Capabilities

The Vision for specialist capabilities aims to enhance policing's response to new and complex threats to better protect the public by developing our network and the way police deliver specialist capabilities by reinforcing and connecting policing locally, nationally and beyond.

Several projects are being funded by the Police Transformation Fund, are delivering this Vision by:

  • Creating a network of undercover officers to target offenders grooming children online for sexual exploitation.
  • Developing national capabilities to combat human trafficking and modern slavery, working with partners to identify best practice, trends and patterns for the prevention of human trafficking and modern slavery.
  • Increasing the numbers of firearms officers and strengthening regional organised crime units to support the fight against organised crime.

Specialist Capabilities Programme

The Specialist Capabilities Programme is delivering the vision for the Specialist Capabilities reform strand. The Programme aims to make specialist capabilities, like armed policing, surveillance and major investigation, stronger and more affordable.

During October 2016, the Programme presented its initial findings and recommendations to the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) General Meeting and the National Police Chiefs’ Constables Council. The full report is available here.

Chief Constables and Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) were presented with three recommendations:

  1. Support the concept of networked policing and agree greater use of data and leadership to strengthen the network;
  2. Agree the process for considering evidence-based proposals to improve surveillance, technical support units, major investigations, armed policing and roads policing;
  3. To support the continuation of the programme including reviewing for cybercrime, intelligence and proactive investigation capabilities.

PCCs added a fourth recommendation committing the Programme to further activity, to consider the Governance implications of the work. This work was commissioned by the governance working group of the Specialist Capabilities Board and was undertaken by the Police Foundation. In December 2016, the Police Foundation published this research.

The Specialist Capabilities Programme is funded from three sources; monies carried forward from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), the National Police Coordination Centre (NPoCC) contribution and funding from the Home Office’s Police Transformation Fund.


The Specialist Capabilities Programme reports into the Specialist Capabilities Board, which in turn, reports to the Police Reform and Transformation Board. The Specialist Capabilities Board is chaired by NPCC Chair, Sara Thornton. Membership includes representatives from the APCC, Chief Constables, the Home Office and the National Crime Agency.


Transforming Forensics

Transforming Forensics is a programme that will:

  • Design and build forensic services that will offer better protection to the communities we serve and the best possible service to victims of crime;
  • Envisage modern, efficient, world leading and sustainable services ensuring consistent and high-quality delivery, innovation, training and support in forensics across the UK;
  • Support forensic science across law enforcement to meet future challenges and deliver enduring transformational change.

Why do we need to transform?

Forensics is an integral part of policing which faces the challenges of an increasingly digital world. Our forensic service needs to modernise, to become more efficient and effective, taking advantage of leading edge technology and innovation to respond to present and future demands.

Forensics in policing provides a vital service and can be creative and flexible. But, quality, performance and productivity vary, and too often innovations developed in one police force are not exploited across other forces. At present, forensic science services in the UK lack the scale, speed and capability needed fully to support investigations with cutting edge tools, processes and science.

What will the programme deliver?

The Transforming Forensics programme will develop the existing service to build world leading services which are aligned with the Policing Vision 2025’s broader transformation goals. The Programme aims to create services which are mobile, agile, exploit technological developments, champion research and development and deliver quality and innovation across the board.

The Programme is developing services:

  • Which deliver results at a pace that can fully support investigations, where more integrated, coordinated, consistently delivered services provide the capacity and flexibility to deal with extremes of demand;
  • Where Crime Scene Investigators have their own frontline analytical tools which complement streamlined laboratories and biometric services delivering complex forensic casework;
  • Where key forensic techniques are preserved and maintained, not lost simply because they are less frequently used than others;
  • Where regulatory, accreditation and quality assurance functions are easy to understand and support swift implementation of innovative forensic capabilities;
  • Which offer greater opportunities to cultivate and nurture talent, a culture where innovation thrives and attracts the right talent to the profession;
  • Where there is a real, sustained increase in operational outcomes from improved technology, better working across force boundaries and longer term financial savings for reinvestment;
  • Which are equipped and ready to deal with continued change, including ever evolving criminal methodologies and exponential increases in digital and cyber-enabled crime.


Work Programme

The Programme is working in the following areas:

  • Fingerprint Bureau: Working closely with the Home Office Biometrics Programme which is delivering significant technological change to the fingerprint system, the Transforming Forensics programme will be redesigning the way fingerprint services are delivering, including retrieval from crime scenes, analysis, interpretation and matching to improve both speed and responsiveness. This will help police identify offenders more often and more swiftly.
  • Digital forensics: The proliferation of mobile phones, laptops, personal computers and other devices has been accompanied by a significant rise in crime. The Transforming Forensics Programme will coordinate and assist forces to develop innovative digital forensic solutions to address this rising challenge.
  • ISO accreditation: All elements of forensics will be required to undergo ISO accreditation to ensure quality standards are upheld. The Transforming Forensics Programme is working with forces to support them in this important work, streamlining the accreditation process and improving quality where appropriate.

To find out more about Transforming Forensics, email: contact@transformingforensics.co.uk