The Archive

The Forensic Archive was established in 2012 to look after more than four million items relating to forensic examinations and investigations carried out by the Forensic Science Service on behalf of the Criminal Justice System.

The material, some of which dates back to the 1930s, includes millions of casefiles, frozen material (such as DNA extracts) and retained items including microscope slides, fibre tapings and recovered hairs.

All are valuable items when used in current cases, cold cases and potentially, future appeals. The archive also holds supporting material such as validation and verification records relating to FSS scientific methods and techniques.

The service is provided to authorised users as follows:

  • Police Forces in relation to archived material originating from work previously performed by the FSS on their behalf.
  • Investigating bodies in relation to archived materials which were originally commissioned by such body, including HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and replacement bodies and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
  • The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) in relation to all archived material.
  • The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) in relation to all archived material.
  • The National Database Unit (NDU) and replacement bodies in relation to all archived material.
  • Coroners in relation to archived material which relates to cases under their jurisdiction.

Private individuals, appellants and defence solicitors, for example, cannot access the archive; their first port of call should be the original investigating police force.

Services offered

Priority Working days Service
1 3 DNA card and sample requests; response to Data Protection Act requests (generally ex-employee details for CPS requirements)
2 5 Additional work by new FSP, defence exam, retrievals for Courts with prior warning
3 28 Section 17 requests
4 30 Retrieval of files/materials for cold case reviews; destruction requests
5 To be agreed on request. Bespoke requests including those where large numbers of casefiles are involved and/or where insufficient data is available to enable easy identification and retrieval of archive material.

The archive cannot contact ex-FSS staff regarding court warnings, continuity requirements or additional statements. Prosecution teams should now undertake this task themselves (although the archive can provide last known contact details for ex-employees).

It should be noted that the archive is not able to provide any scientific advice or support. If additional statements regarding scientific techniques previously used by the FSS are required, it is the responsibility of the prosecution/defence team to arrange this with an appropriate scientist. With regards cold case work, the archive cannot provide lists of all material held in relation to a case or make recommendations on potential avenues of additional scientific work. Forces should request the pertinent case-files to review themselves (or ask their current forensic provider to do so) and then contact the archive to dispatch the required items.