Forensic Science is the application of science to the law and it plays a very important role in police work and solving crime. It has been popularised by TV dramas but the reality of forensic work is far more complex than its portrayal on screen.
Forensic science has been used for hundreds of years and is constantly evolving as new technologies are discovered and improved.
Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies run a highly effective forensic service consisting of a number of departments including:
- Fingerprint Bureau
- Fingerprint Development Laboratory
- Photographic and Imaging
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Forensic Support
These departments, based principally at Wymondham, Norfolk, work closely together to provide a timely response to forensic requests. For more information on these departments please see below.
Role of a Crime Scene Investigator (CSI)
Norfolk and Suffolk Constabulary CSIs are based at seven stations across the two counties and are responsible for investigating crime scenes and recovering and recording physical evidence that may help to solve a crime.
There are three levels of CSI:
- Volume Crime Scene Investigators (VCSIs) - deal with incidents such as burglary, theft and vandalism.
- Crime Scene Investigators (CSIs) - deal with any type of crime, from criminal damage to murder.
- Senior CSIs - are managers who allocate resources where they are needed and will usually attend at major crime scenes. They are also responsible for ensuring that levels of service are maintained to the highest standards.
To be an effective CSI requires an eye for detail, a methodical and practical approach and the ability to extract necessary details from often hectic and confusing scenes. They also require a composed attitude and a strong constitution due to the nature of some of the cases they may encounter.
Typically a CSI will start their day by being allocated a number of crime scenes to cover. These will normally be from incidents that have occurred over the previous day or night. If a major incident has occurred then it may require a team of CSIs to go out to the scene and this will be coordinated by a Senior CSI.
CSIs have a range of techniques that they can use to help recover evidence, much of which may be initially invisible to the naked eye. A CSI’s van will contain all of the necessary materials that they require to effectively collect evidence. This includes sophisticated photographic equipment, chemicals and powders to detect fingerprints and footwear marks and a range of light sources that will fluoresce various substances such as blood and other bodily fluids.
Once the CSI has finished collecting and recording evidence from a crime scene, it is then documented and, if necessary, sent for detailed analysis to extract further information in the form of fingerprints and DNA profiles. Some of this analysis is carried out at independent forensic laboratories on behalf of the police.
CSIs use a bespoke computer system to record details of a crime scene. This is a powerful resource as it is linked to other departments within forensics and allows instant access to and sharing of data relating to a crime.
The role of a Forensic Photographer is varied and constantly changing. You could start the day by photographing bullet casings that were found at a murder scene and finish it by photographing VIPs. This variety requires the ability to prioritise operational tasks that can occur at very short notice, especially if related to a major crime.
Forensic photographers may be called upon to use their specialist knowledge to provide photographic techniques that cannot be covered by conventional photography, such as Ultra Violet and Infra-Red.
The standards set by forensic photographers provide a benchmark for all photographic practitioners within Norfolk and Suffolk Constabularies and they will also provide advice and training to ensure that these standards are maintained across the organisation.
Adjoining the Fingerprint Bureau is the Fingerprint Development Laboratory. A small team of Fingerprint Development Officers use specialised chemical and non-destructive treatments to detect fingerprints on objects retrieved from a crime scene by Crime Scene Investigators and Police Officers. The chemical treatments they use adhere to the residues left behind in a fingerprint and make them more visible when viewed with certain light sources.
Fingerprints that have been retrieved from a crime scene can be compared against others using a national database system known as IDENT1. This powerful computer resource links fingerprint records from all police forces across the country and holds the records of approximately 7.5 million fingerprint forms.
To be an effective Fingerprint Officer requires dedication, a keen eye for detail and the ability to work to very exact standards. They have to undergo months of training, compile a portfolio of their work and be constantly assessed to ensure that their skills are up to the required standard.
Some organisations may ask you to provide your fingerprints for security reasons if you have lived in another country. We can take the fingerprints for you, which are then forwarded by yourself to the country of residence for the checks to be carried out.
Members of the public requiring their fingerprints to be taken, can make use of a fingerprint appointment service provided by Norfolk and Suffolk Fingerprint Bureau at Norfolk Constabulary Headquarters at Wymondham, for one of the following reasons:
- an overseas police clearance check
- a certificate of good conduct from another country for employment purposes
- a foreign passport renewal, or
- for adoption procedures
If you are applying for a Visa to live or work overseas, you may need checks carried out on the Police National Computer (PNC) and/or a copy of your fingerprints taken for a police certificate. The application process may vary depending on the country you are applying to. Please check with your agency and via the ACRO website for further information before requesting a fingerprint appointment with us as they may need to be taken by the Embassy.
If you require a police check for employment and have only lived in the U.K (known as a DBS check), please contact the Disclosure and Barring Service using the Gov.Uk website.
If you require a Biometric Residence Permit, please contact the Post Office who will be able to help you.
Please do not attend for the service without first booking an appointment.
We can only take fingerprints for this service on:
Mondays at 10am, 11am or 2pm and
Wednesdays at 10am, 11am or 2pm
To book an appointment please email the Norfolk and Suffolk Fingerprint Bureau on [email protected]
In the email you must state:
- Your full name
- The reason for Fingerprint Request (one of the above reasons)
- Your address
- The email address that will be used for payment confirmation
- Your phone number
- The country you are sending your fingerprints to, so we can work out your fee
- Your preferred day and time- the next available Monday or Wednesday- 10am, 11am or 2pm. Please be aware, depending on current demand this may not be for a couple or more weeks.
We will then send you a Provisional Date email, offering you the next available appointment.The email willhave the link to the GOVUK Pay website where you will be able to securely pay for the service.
The Fees for this service are set nationally and are dependent whether the country you need to send your fingerprints to, are subject to or VAT exempt.
Fingerprinting fees for most countries are subject to VAT. In this case, the charge for the first set of prints is:
- £102.96 and then £51.48 for each additional set
There are certain HMRC VAT exempt countries, including Abu Dhabi, Canada, Jamaica, Japan, Nigeria, Qatar, St Vincent and Grenadines, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Zambia and Zimbabwe where the fee will be:
- £85.80 for the first set and then £42.90 for each additional set
Please ensure you enquire if you need just one set or any additional sets before making an appointment and paying for the service as we cannot complete additional sets at your appointment, due to our pre-payment method.
For example, if you require 2 fingerprint sets, for a country subject to VAT e.g. USA, the cost for the service will be £102.96 plus £51.48 (£154.44), which you will pay via GOVUK Pay before your appointment.
The fee agreed at the provisional booking stage must be paid online via the link sent to you in your email within 3 days.
When paying, please ensure you use the name and email address provided to us in your first email request.
Your booking will only be confirmed once the payment has been received, following which you will receive a Confirmation email along with additional guidance on attendance. Please ensure you read the guidance carefully before attending your appointment.
Cancellation and Refunds
If you need to cancel your appointment, contact us to let us know. We will then request your refund through our Finance Department who have access to the Online Payment Portal. Refunds will be processed as soon as possible.
Norfolk Constabulary Headquarters
Falconers Chase, Wymondham,
Norfolk, NR18 0WW
Tel: 01953 424321
Monday 10am, 11am, 2pm
Wednesday 10am, 11am and 2pm
What to bring with you
We must verify your identity before taking your prints so please bring with you:
- a valid photo passport, or
- a full photo driving licence
We won’t be able to take your fingerprints without seeing one of these.