GROUNDBREAKING new forensic techniques could help police fight crime more quickly.

New methods brought into force by Regional Scientific Support Services (RSSS) - a collaboration between North Yorkshire Police, West Yorkshire Police, South Yorkshire Police and Humberside Police - have dramatically reduced the time taken to examine fingerprints and footprints at crime scenes.

The project has introduced digital transmission of forensic evidence, and means results are available to detectives almost in “real time” instead of days.

Neil Denison, director of scientific support services at RSSS, said the scheme could help change the way forces around the country work.

He said: “It means the time taken for a key piece of evidence such as a fingerprint or footwear impression is identified much quicker than it was previously.

“This can make all the difference in bringing offenders to justice.

“This is real science in action making a real difference to the communities we serve.

“It is helping to transform the way in which forensic services are delivered and police investigations undertaken.”

Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, is leading the national work on transforming forensics, and said the change would be “a real game changer for police investigations”, and reduce the time taken to process certain forensic evidence from crime scenes.

He said: “Technological advances such as these have the potential to not only increase the speed and ability to solve crimes, but also reduce crime from happening in the first place.

“When criminals discover that their chances of being caught have increased they are less likely to take the risk, and importantly the speed of justice for victims could be dramatically improved.”Detective Superintendent Nick Wallen, of West Yorkshire Police’s Protective Services (Crime) Department, said: “Investigations into major incidents such as murders or serious sexual assaults can be very fast moving and very often science is the key to bringing an offender to justice. What this pilot does is greatly speed up the results coming back to the laboratory for testing and ultimately helps me as a senior investigating officer bring people to justice. The speeding up the processing of potentially key evidence improves the likelihood of early detection, arrest or recovery of property.”

The project is expected to cost £4.1m over two years, and costs are being met through the Police Transformation Fund and the Home Office.