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Welsh police forces unite to launch joint new unit.

THE high-tech scientific investigation unit used to help catch Newport murderer Carl Whant has been officially opened.

The laboratory in Bridgend, which can identify criminals' fingerprints and DNA within just two hours, proved vital in the case against Whant, who brutally murdered pregnant Nikitta Grender.

South Wales Police and Gwent Police yesterday officially launched the Joint Scientific Investigation Unit (SIU) as part of the UK Government's collaboration proposals.

Crime scene investigators (CSI) are now able to have evidence processed almost instantly, helping to speed up the investigation of many crimes.

Forensic scientists in Wales can now match the capabilities of their on-screen counterparts in TV hits like US show CSI - by remotely analysing evidence before informing officers at the scene.

Previously, evidence would have to be sent to laboratories outside of Wales and could take weeks to process.

The SIU, which deals with evidence gathered by both forces, will also save millions of pounds in public money.

It consists of staff from both forces and is based at the South Wales Police headquarters in Bridgend and at Rumney Police Station in Cardiff.

It has top-of-the-range equipment and facilities boasting skills and services that many other UK police forces cannot provide.

The site includes a drugs lab, a fingerprint development and identification unit, a NaBIS Clearing House - which analyses guns seized by police - and a trace evidence laboratory - which examines evidence recovered from crimes scenes for traces of blood and other forensic evidence.

Ian Brewster, head of the SIU, said the high profile case of Nikitta Grender was proof the new unit is catching dangerous criminals.

"Our CSI's made the significant find of blood under his car mat, which is where we think he hid the knife, and if we did not have this facility we may have missed that," Mr Brewster said.

"[They] can now remotely send fingerprints and footprints from their offices to the fingerprint identification unit in Bridgend therefore cutting the process from six days to two hours.

"The joint unit is also currently investing in technology that will allow CSIs to remotely send this type of evidence direct from their police vehicles at the crime scene, therefore dramatically speeding up the process even more.

"We will be able to tell local CID detectives and uniformed police officers which person has committed the crime within this impressive time scale."

Assistant Chief Constable Matt Jukes, of South Wales Police, said the unit should reassure victims of crime that everything is being done to catch the perpetrator.

CAPTION(S):

* A forensic officer in an examination room on the new unit * Police forensic officers at work
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 3, 2012
Words:435
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