25th October 2023
Introduced by John Armstrong, FCN Managing Director (interim)
I am delighted to present the first FCN annual report, looking back on 2022/23 and forward through this current year, outlining our agreed delivery plans.
Set against the backdrop of a formal NPCC strategic review and the subsequent restructuring to align with the new FCN remit and focus, which took up much of 2021-22, FCN moves into 2023/24 in a positive position.
The restructure of FCN was successfully completed in late 2022, and we are now operating under new leadership and a new structure streamlined to deliver exactly what policing needs most from us, focussed on the key priorities, risks and challenges.
Sadly, this did mean some capabilities and staff moving out of FCN, namely in the worlds of Operations and Commercial services, but these capabilities have moved into more suitable places elsewhere in policing.
Taking over the leadership of FCN as Interim Managing Director in September 2022, I remain committed to ensuring that what FCN does meets policing’s requirements, adds value, and genuinely helps forces meet their challenges and mitigate their risks.
On that topic, in developing our 2023/24 delivery plan, we have taken a much more collaborative and open approach, which has resulted in a plan supported by the community of forensic leaders and agreed at Forensic Portfolio board in April of this year.
I will ensure that we continue to operate in exactly the same way all through the year, with a flexible approach to delivery that can change as or when needed, remaining laser-focussed on the priorities.
In the same vein, we’re publishing this as FCN’s first annual report in order to show that we’re here to meet your needs, with transparency and openness over how we’re doing that. We intend to publish a report annually going forwards around the turn of the financial year, so that the policing and forensic communities have visibility and influence over what we’re doing.
Considering all the challenges that FCN, and its host force Dorset Police, faced during the restructuring, I hope readers of this report appreciate the team’s quite incredible achievements and delivery in the past year. The achievements highlighted in this report show why a national capability is so important, and what we can achieve by all working together. Many of FCN’s activities are conducted in partnership with people across the community, and we’d like to thank every person who gave their time and knowledge – whether you were part of a working group or volunteered your expertise.
FCN is blessed with a group of staff that are highly knowledgeable and skilled in what they do, dedicated and fully committed to provide the highest possible service and help to policing, and I’m extremely proud to lead and support them in what they do.
Going forwards, if anyone is in doubt as to what FCN is here to do, I merely say, “we’re here to help”. You would have heard me say that a number of times since September and I absolutely mean it – and if we’re not doing that, you need to let me know.
Where it makes sense for policing to do something once, nationally instead of 43 times for everyone’s benefit, then FCN will facilitate and/or deliver it for you. Where that doesn’t make sense and it’s better for local solutions, then FCN will not interfere in that but will of course happily help if asked.
FCN is now set up to deliver what policing needs and wants, but that’s only the beginning and working together we can deliver great things in forensics.
Towards the back of this report, we also look to the future. FCN has a delivery plan for 2023/24 which has been approved after extensive consultation with the forensic and policing community. Beyond this year we’ll continue to evolve, with a particular focus on establishing new funding and hosting arrangements from 2024 onwards.