Female forensics working studying fingerprint on computer

Forensics research

Explore our work in forensics, one of our areas of research expertise in Criminology

Forensic science has made a huge contribution to contemporary justice. Developments such a fingerprinting, forensic investigation and DNA recovery have changed the way crime is detected, prevented and investigated. 

As crime trends evolve, our Forensics research is continuing to use science to identify, eliminate, reconstruct and inform how crime is investigated, and to support the justice process whenever and wherever that support is needed.

Our research focuses on the following key topics

  • Fingerprints
  • Digital forensics
  • Fire investigation
  • Wildlife crime
  • Firearms
  • DNA recovery
  • Forensic entomology
  • Human factors and decision-making
  • 3D scene and evidence capture (augmented and virtual reality)

Partnerships and collaborations

Many of our research projects involve extensive collaboration: we're working with Hampshire Constabulary Scientific Services to find key issues in their forensic practices, and researching ways to positively change how they work.

We're also partnering with Hampshire Constabulary on a two-year project known as The Cybercrime Awareness Clinic. The clinic provides advice to groups vulnerable to cybercrime in the local Portsmouth community, and carries out research with older people, small and medium organisations and children in schools, as well as college students. 

We work with Hampshire Fire and Rescue on forensic education research, and regularly collaborate with other organisation across the forensic community – including the Defence School of Policing and Guarding, and industry partners such as Key Forensic Services Ltd – to deliver bespoke, strategic research projects.


Much of our research is centred on the University's Forensic Innovation Centre (FIC), an interdisciplinary team of experts working together to develop forensic research with the potential to make real impact.

The University is home to exceptional facilities that play a key role in the work we do, including analytical, search and recover, and educational support systems. We also have access to 3D capture and imaging technology in our research and teaching laboratories.

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Publication highlights include

Optimisation of DNA profiling in sexual offences: a crossdisciplinary approach
Forensic Science International, Vol. 277, Supp. 1, Katie Jetten Dr Katherine Brown, Dr Paul Smith, Claire Rhodes

Empirical approaches to improving the use of DNA in crime scene investigative practice
International Journal of Police Science & Management. 19, 1, p.54-60, Dr Paul A Smith, Simon Mound, Natasha Brown, Roxy Leonard, Carolyn Lovell, Dr Stephanie Bennett

Forensic Innovation Centre: a UK model for academia, police and forensic science collaboration
Forensic Science International, Vol. 277, Supp. 1, pp. 1-257, Anna-Marie O'Connor, Dr Paul Smith, Samantha Howard

Discover our areas of expertise

Forensics is one of 7 areas of expertise within our Criminology research – explore the other 6 below.

Cybercrime and Cybersecurity

We're exploring the growing threat and impact cybercrime at all levels of society, investigating the methods and motives of the people who commit it, and finding new ways to deal with them.

Computer hacker working at laptop
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Forensic interviewing

We're exploring new and better ways to gather quality, reliable information from crime scenes and witnesses' minds – and helping develop protocols and practices that ensure this human data is protected and interpreted correctly.

Woman writing forensic studies notes on whiteboard
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Missing Persons

We're identifying patterns of behaviour that precede a person going missing and working to change the policies and practices that determine how such cases are handled.

Empty pairs of shoes left on the beach
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Economic Crime

We’re looking at economic crime, assessing the methods used to combat it, and developing new ways to protect individuals and organisations from fraud, corruption, money laundering and intellectual property crime.

Man checking financial figures on calculator
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Probation, Prison and Penology

We're working to understand the role of punishment, and how it links with processes of justice and rehabilitation – and helping shape how criminal justice practitioners work, by linking theory to practice.

Prison interior between cell bars
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In the wake of a prolonged period of budget cuts, our work deals with the most-pressing issues facing the police service – from how police officers learn, to the individual factors that can influence an investigation.

Two police officers in busy street
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Research groups

Policing Crime and Forensic Investigation Research Group
We're researching policing, probation and criminal forensic investigation.

Interested in a PhD in Criminology?

Browse our postgraduate research degrees – including PhDs and MPhils – at our Criminology postgraduate research degrees page.