Celebration of work starting on new forensics centre for Thames Valley

Celebration of work starting on new forensics centre for Thames Valley

Thames Valley Police and the Police and Crime Commissioner have marked the start of work on the new forensics centre with a ground-breaking ceremony.

Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Barber, Deputy Chief Constable Ben Snuggs and Head of Forensic Services, Kay Hannam, dug the first bit of ground at the site of the state-of-the-art building in Bicester with representatives from constructors Willmott Dixon and designers Atkins on Thursday (10/8).

The purpose-built centre will become the Forensic Investigation Unit’s main hub, containing laboratories, new digital technologies and dedicated training facilities.

It is part of the wider Forensic Improvement Programme, which will see significant investment over the next three years to transform the force’s forensic services, improving investigations and the outcomes for victims.

Mr Barber said: “I was delighted to put the first spade in the ground marking the start of construction on our new purpose-built forensics centre.

“This is an exciting new chapter for Thames Valley Police. Ensuring the police are on the cutting edge of forensics is critical to keeping the public safe.

“Whether the crime is burglary, sexual offences or other serious violence, it is vital we work to stay one step ahead of the criminals. This significant investment in our estate will transform our forensics service providing state-of-the-art support for operational policing and delivering improved outcomes for victims. It will also futureproof our forensics capability and capacity helping us to meet existing and future demand.”

Construction officially starts at the site on force-owned land near Avonbury Business Park on Howes Lane on 29 August, is expected to be completed in winter 2024/25.

During the first few months, workers will be focusing on site setup and groundwork. This will involve installing a temporary car park, deliveries lay-by, below ground drainage, pouring foundations, and constructing the new building slab. Additionally, they will be carrying out a drainage diversion that serves the existing police base. In terms of works out the ground, the concrete frame will commence in November.

Deputy Chief Constable Snuggs said: “I am really excited that we are able to mark the beginning of the building work on our new forensics building.

“When complete, this facility will provide a state-of-the-art space for our Forensic Investigation teams and improve our service delivery to the public.

“It will also enable Thames Valley Police to enhance its forensic provision with a variety of crime scene investigation and digital roles, as well providing bespoke on-site training facilities for staff and students.

“Forensic evidence plays a critical part in the investigation of both serious and volume crime. This milestone takes us a step closer to improving our ability to fight crime, bring offenders to justice and serve victims, thus making sure TVP is an excellent police force trusted by all our communities.”

The priority will be to minimise the impact on the surrounding environment. They will be managing dust, noise, mud on the road, and coordinating deliveries outside peak school run times. They will also be regularly monitoring noise and dust levels at the site boundary, and all vehicles leaving the site will have their wheels washed.

The building will be adopting high quality materials and finishes with a view to minimising environmental impact through the project’s life cycle.

The landscaped spaces between the building and Howes Lane will provide significant areas of planting alongside hedgerows, trees and grass.

Ms Hannam said: “The goal of the Forensics Improvement Programme is to build the capacity and capability of the Forensic Investigation Unit so that we can play a pivotal role in achieving outstanding investigations, positive outcomes and improving victim satisfaction.

“This new forensic centre will create the right environment for our multi-disciplined forensic teams to better collaborate and deliver excellent forensic science across the Thames Valley.

“It will act as a catalyst for growth, providing opportunities to recruit and retain our talent, increasing the size of our teams and harnessing new technology to meet the increasing demands and complexity of crime investigation.

“By co-locating our critical services such as digital forensics and crime scene investigation with our forensic laboratories, we can not only provide services at the point of need, but ensure that we continue to meet our statutory regulation requirements.

“In reaching this ground-breaking milestone, it’s a truly exciting time for TVP Forensic Services.”

Richard Poulter, Managing Director for Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd, said: “We are delighted to be part of this project and start to bring Thames Valley Police’s vision to a reality.

“It will provide a new, high-quality working environment to support forensic services and deliver improved outcomes to the public.

“The facility will truly be fit for purpose and become the main forensics hub for the force, containing laboratories, new digital technologies and dedicated training facilities.

“We can’t wait to see the project progress over the coming months.”

Fiona Gwilliam, Atkins’ design lead on the project, said: “It’s always a welcome sight to see the first stages of a project getting underway. We have been working extensively with the forensic teams that will be using the building to ensure that the design incorporates their procedural requirements whilst also providing a state-of-the-art working environment.

“What we have achieved by working in partnership with Thames Valley Police, is a space that is truly fit for purpose in meeting the force’s objectives, that can adapt to meet future demands, and that will meet the needs for people working there every day.

“The building has been designed in accordance with the Government Property Agency’s Sustainable and Net Zero Design Guide, and careful consideration has been given to integrated structural and service systems to improve the performance of the building, to reduce operational energy where possible.”

Our Forensics Investigation Unit is recruiting. To learn more about our opportunities, visit TVP Forensics  or sign up for our careers event at Said Business School in Oxford on Saturday 19 August, where members of our forensics team will be available to answer your questions. Walk-ins are also welcome.