What Is Police, Custody and Secure Facilities Testing and Certification?

The most important step in any forensic investigation is undoubtedly the analysis of crime evidence.

Where vital evidence is lost, insufficiently documented, incorrectly obtained or packaged, tainted, or destroyed, the entire investigation may be compromised.

Material collected at the crime scene would typically require some form of inspection and analysis inside secure police custody facilities. This controlled facility will require a minimum equipment level to provide service regarding general laboratory work.

The process involved in verifying that the crime laboratory and police facility is secure and meets the approved standard is known as Police, Custody and Secure Facilities Testing and Certification.

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What is a Secure Facility?

A secure facility is an enclosed place used to analyse evidence that requires environmental pollutants at very low levels such as particles of airborne microbes, dust, aerosol and chemical vapours.

Police custody and secure facilities require certification or validation after several tests to ensure that it meets accepted cleanliness standards that provide assurance that the facilities’ operations meet all quality requirements. Within controlled environments, the concentration of airborne particles is controlled to minimise the compromising and contamination of evidence. That is why routine testing is necessary to confirm that it meets the specified requirements and to verify that the facility operates within operational limits while retaining trust in quality assurance programs.

Total Clean Air is the UK’s leading expert in the certification and testing of police facilities. You can rely on us to construct, test, and certify your secure facilities and equipment.

Standard certification includes

  • A detailed test report with particle count data map.
  • A mountable inspection certificates.
  • Using traceable calibrated instruments.
  • ISO 5 – 8 and Class 100 – 1000.
  • Room differential air pressure.

Optional certifications include

  • A lighting intensity map
  • A temperature map
  • Visible environmental monitoring
  • A sound map
  • A humidity map
  • A vibration test
  • Enumeration and identification

Becoming Fully Vetted for Restricted Access Sites Across the UK

The most important component of a facility’s forensic science is its professional scientific personnel. They must, therefore, have the necessary experience, knowledge, and education to fulfil this responsibility.

Vetting and security clearance at the police force also provide some degree of assurance about an individual’s suitability for secure access to a clean facility and sensitive equipment.

A security clearance is often offered to police officers who have completed a full background check successfully, which then allows them access to restricted areas.

To receive a UK Security Clearance, an applicant must undergo a screening and assessment process. A clearance is necessary to prevent evidence from becoming compromised by pathogens and impurities brought in by staff. Therefore, having the clearance to work in the sites for testing and certifying environments is necessary.

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What are the Types of Clearance Required to Gain Access to Restricted Areas in the Police Department?

Enhanced DBS Checks

An Enhanced DBS Check is required for members of the police force who have unsupervised and frequent access to sensitive equipment and restricted facilities.

This check-level provides full details of the individual to see if they are qualified to access sensitive areas in the police department. It covers personal information about the individual including any prior circumstances that is deemed relevant to the certificate.

It can also check for a barred list to see if the individual is forbidden to work with a specific set of subjects.

Security Check (SC)

An SC (security check) is the most popularly accepted category of security clearance. A Security Check is mandated for positions involving uncontrolled and regular as well as supervised and/or occasional access to cleanrooms and other secure facilities.

An SC security clearance is often reviewed after 10 years at the discretion of the vetting authority or at any time up to that point.

A yellow-coloured badge is issued to an SC holder.

Authorised Unescorted Access for all UK Police facilities

The level of clearance is applied to all individuals requiring unattended access to police facilities including premises, systems, or information.

Some of these people often need access to classified government security (GSC) information, and the appropriate level of national security vetting is applied where this is the case. This form of screening finds broader and more detailed risks.

Completing this procedure meets the IAM (National Identity and Access Management Service) criteria.

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MOD Security Cleared for Site Access

To get MOD security clearance for access to the controlled clean environment within the police department, you will have to go through the highest security clearance level in the UK, known as DV (Developed Vetting) security.

Developed Vetting is the UK Government’s most comprehensive and detailed form of security clearance for staff requiring regular and unrestricted access to facilities used for critical processes.

A DV security clearance must be reviewed every seven years or at any time up to those points at the discretion of the vetting authority. A DV holder is issued a green-coloured badge.

Forensic Equipment and Testing

The process of crime-solving requires the use of forensic equipment during the forensic science process for the analysis of evidence and samples to solve crimes.

Yardsticks for measurements include dealing with body fluids, analysis of chemicals or drugs, identification of DNA or fingerprints, and evidence analysis. Importantly, it’s the science and technology fusion that allows forensic scientists and investigative officers to do much of their work.

In the forensic sciences, there are a lot of different techniques and testing components that enhance the crime investigation. Some of them are:

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Forensic Drying Cabinet

An evidence drying cabinet is a useful equipment piece for forensics labs which handle high volumes of wet evidence. For various wet evidence types, drying is the first step that must be taken before any kind of analysis or evidence storage can occur.

A forensic drying cabinet provides a constant flow of air to effectively dry up the evidence while safeguarding it from pollution. It also provides protection to laboratory personnel against biological substances that are potentially harmful.

You can protect your evidence from noxious odours and infectious pathogens by drying and storing evidence with a Forensic Evidence Drying Cabinet, while reducing possible cross-contamination of evidence.

The cabinet protects your evidence against cross-contamination and airborne pathogens while eliminating personal exposure to harmful bacteria and decomposing putrid odours or viruses.

The unit is configured to pre-filtrate-clean the incoming drying air and then filter out the exhaust air in the cabinet through a combination of bonded carbon and HEPA filtration.

To ensure that this equipment is always in good shape, regular testing is recommended.

Forensic Powder Cabinet Testing

Latent prints are not easily apparent to the naked eye. As a result, to increase their contrast and visibility these hidden prints have to be revealed in some way. The most common way to develop latent prints on nonporous objects is by adding fingerprint powder to physically improve them.

Fingerprint powder consists of many different ingredients which may vary considerably depending on the formula used. Most powders include lampblack, black ferric oxide, and rosin. Many contain also inorganic chemicals such as bismuth, titanium, silicon, copper, cadmium, mercury, and lead.

Fingerprint powder is spread by dusting it across the surface and functions by adhering mechanically to the latent print’s moisture and oil components.

When the particles of powder adhere to the moisture or grease forming the latent prints, this makes them visible. The latent prints produced can then be readily observed and can be examined and processed.

For non-porous surfaces, dusting powders for commercial use can be dusted on the surface to help in the identification and improvement of ridge details.

It is recommended that this equipment is periodically tested to ensure that functions effectively and does not compromise the results it produces.

Ninhydrin Cabinet Testing

Ninhydrin is a chemical used in detecting both amines and ammonia. Once these chemicals react with ninhydrin, a purple or deep blue colour is produced- popularly called the purple colour of Ruhemann.

Ninhydrin is the same compound used for fingerprint identification. It is efficacious because the terminal amines in both peptides and proteins of a lysine residue peeled off in fingerprints react with these chemicals.

Ninhydrin is a white solid that becomes soluble in liquids such as ethanol and acetone, at room temperature and in normal circumstances.

Ninhydrin Fingerprint Development cabinets are frequently tested to see how rapidly ninhydrin, DFO and other fingerprint development processes are optimised within a controlled environment, where time, temperature, and humidity are crucial.

They will also be evaluated to ensure fingerprints are detected quickly and with clarity in high relative humidity and high-temperature, precisely controlled conditions.

Fingerprint Cabinet Testing

Fingerprint Development Cabinets are utilised to enhance the development of latent fingerprints on porous surfaces using ninhydrin, DFO, and other developmental chemicals in a controlled setting for optimal efficacy where time, temperature, and moisture are critical.

The Fingerprint Production cabinet regulates all operations from start to finish, enabling the investigator to begin an unattended process, determine the proper intensity and duration of production, and return to collect results upon completion.

The resulting prints are left to fluoresce, using specific light sources and lasers.

Pieces of evidence are usually treated by spraying or bathing with DFO or ninhydrin. Following this process, the samples must be built under given conditions of temperature and humidity for an optimum result.

Even though the fingerprint cabinet can work unattended, it is recommended that this equipment be tested regularly to ensure that all the results it produces are accurate, and that there are no foreign contaminants.

This is where Total Clean Air can come in.

Cyanoacrylate Cabinet Testing

In crime and forensics laboratories, cyanoacrylate fuming chambers are used to process evidence items such as latent fingerprints while eliminating user’s exposure to hazardous chemical fumes.

Via solid-state heating, cyanoacrylate polymerisation is accelerated and recirculatory design eliminates the need for ducting.

For mobile crime labs or smaller laboratories, the sizes of cyanoacrylate fuming chambers can be less than 2 feet long. Useful features include a microprocessor power between 50% and 80% of cycle time, temperature, and humidity.

Despite the self-sufficiency of this equipment, it also requires regular testing to ensure efficiency, performance, and safety.

Total Clean Air can handle testing for all police, custody, facility, and forensic equipment, making sure that everything works as it should and that all the results produced are not compromised.

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What is the Cyanoacrylate Fuming Method?

The cyanoacrylate or super glue method is a technique of forensic science which uses super glue vapours to enhance fingerprints that are latent.

The fuming is done in a developing cabinet using water and super glue which enables the vapours to stick to the fingerprint, helping to make it clear. Once the print becomes visible you can use powders or dyes to improve it.

Superglue fuming allows a fingerprint to become semi-permanent so that the print can be dusted and tape-lifted several times without it getting ruined or disturbed.

A control print may be used to determine the length of time required for producing a fingerprint. You can place an oily fingerprint on a piece of plastic or a piece of aluminium foil. Then, as the prints evolve, the control print can be looked at to determine how long the evidence must be left to develop.

The fuming of fingerprint evidence is done by a person trained in fingerprint-proofing or a latent fingerprint examiner.

Total Clean Air – Leading Provider of Cleanrooms for the Police in the UK

Police cleanrooms are best suited when they have mobility and flexibility.

At Total Clean Air, we are well positioned to offer police departments across the UK with personalised cleanrooms. We offer local downflow cabinets or cleanrooms to carry out your critical processes in a more effective way, depending on your unique needs.

Owing to their customizability, ease of use and fast installation, our modular cleanrooms are particularly popular as they make endless opportunities possible.

Our cleanroom expert team has specialised knowledge about vital police cleanroom processes and our services measure up to all requirements and standards internationally and in the industry.

By contacting Total Clean Air for a fully personalised forensic facility designed to specifically boost your efficiency, you can build your expertise and optimise your critical processes today.

Total Clean Air - Testing & Validation Services

Contact us today and find out how we can best serve you on your next project.

Phillip Godden

Phillip Godden is the Founder & Chief/Executive Officer at Total Clean Air.

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