University Strengthens Links with Local Force

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The University of Worcester will be increasing its links with West Mercia Police ahead of the new academic year – strengthening what is already a unique collaboration.

The link-up sees the force use the University’s Crime Scene House to train their own Forensic Investigators.

The facility – based on the St John’s campus – which is used to replicate real-life scenarios for Forensic Science students during term time, is being utilised to provide training to the force’s experienced Forensic team during the summer months.

Six members of the West Mercia team were in attendance for the latest training day – held earlier this week - and it is expected that all the force’s Forensic Investigators will attend similar events at the facility throughout the summer, as part of a wider collaboration between the two organisations.

Kate Unwin, Senior Lecturer in Forensic Science and Biology, explains: “There will be eight training days throughout the summer, giving the Forensic Investigators the chance to use Bluestar, a bloodstain reagent which is new to the force.

“Not only does this collaboration allow West Mercia Police to make use of our facilities, but events over the coming academic year will also provide our students with a great opportunity to interact with and learn from professionals.”

She continues: “The fact that our local force is so keen to work alongside us is recognition of the standard of the courses we offer – and students are aware that the training they receive is exactly the same as that which the Forensic Investigators are going through.”

Wendy Watkins, Senior Forensic Investigator and Lead Trainer at West Mercia Police, adds: “It’s a great link-up for us as a force as it means our training is more accredited, and the collaboration also represents an amazing opportunity for students.

“The course here is led by professionals who have first-hand experience, and this, coupled with the facility that we are using today, allows students to experience real-world problems faced by the police.

“This ultimately means that we as a force are aware of the calibre of the course and therefore, the standard and employability of the students.

One second year student, Joe Butler, worked alongside the team at the latest training day, and will now go on to produce a paper on the extended research into the Bluestar technology.

He says: “Getting published and knowing that the research will go on to help everyone that uses Bluestar in the future is obviously very exciting.

“The link-up is a fantastic opportunity – I’m able to network and build connections with Forensic Investigators, which could help me in the future, and this kind of research will ultimately contribute to the enhancement of the science, so it’s great to be a part of it.”