Posted on Thursday 19 January 2023
County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS) and Durham Constabulary Forensic Investigation teams have joined forces under a new agreement and forensic science standard, to combat deliberate fire setting and arson across County Durham and Darlington.
Durham Constabulary and CDDFRS Forensic Investigation teams have worked closely as a joint Fire Investigation Team to recover physical trace evidence left over after a fire to support Police Investigators since 2002. However, the introduction of new forensic regulation legislation has outlined the need for both services to gain accreditation to the stringent requirements of the International Standards Organisation known as ISO:17020 as well as the soon to be implemented Forensic Regulator Statutory Codes of Practice and Conduct.
These standards for forensic investigation allow for close collaboration between the two agencies, under a Section 22a agreement, to bring the expertise and resources of both organisations together to maximise the recovery of trace forensic evidence in a fire scene.
Arson and the effects of deliberate fire setting impact communities, destroying property and the natural resources and ecology of County Durham and Darlington. This new agreement between the Chief Constable, Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Fire Officer will see the Joint Fire Investigation Team members working to a standard that will demonstrate to the Court and wider public that the technical processes, specialist equipment and vehicles of Police Crime Scene Investigators and Fire Service Investigators, conform to the evidential standard requirement for serious crime scene investigations in support of the Criminal Justice System.
Lee Aspery, Community Safety and Arson Reduction Manager at CDDFRS said “This ISO:17020 agreement between Durham Police and CDDFRS will target offences such as
Arson, criminal damage and deliberate fire setting across County Durham and Darlington. This will make our communities safer and bring those responsible for putting people's lives at risk and causing damage to property and our countryside before the courts, with a high degree of confidence about the physical evidence recovered from the fire scene”'.
Andrea Armstrong, Head of Forensic Services at Durham Constabulary said, “The partnership between CDDFRS and Durham Constabulary has always been strong, but this new agreement and the financial and resource investment both organisations are making demonstrates the aspiration to reduce deliberate fire setting and bring those responsible to justice”.
Nick Graham, Quality Manager at Durham Constabulary said, “With the introduction of the new statutory codes holding the forensic industry to a higher standard we look forward to working with CDDFRS to support our communities by ensuring evidence produced is of a high standard and falls under accreditation”.