VicPol Corporate
Forensic services

The Victoria Police Forensic Services Department (VPFSD), under the Executive Director, has over 500 staff.

This is made up of a combination of forensic officers (mostly scientists) and sworn police members. The department is also made up of public service staff who provide business, logistics and maintenance support.

The VPFSD provide more than 100,000 examinations per year. These results include more than 2,300 DNA links and 10,000 fingerprint links.

The VPFSD is accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA). Most of our work is scene examinations, exhibit examinations and assisting the criminal justice system.

Crime scene examinations

Forensic staff attend and examine many serious crime scenes such as:

  • homicides
  • suspicious fires and explosions
  • clandestine drug laboratories
  • cannabis crops
  • serious vehicle collisions
  • natural disaster or mass-casualty incidents.

Exhibit examinations

Exhibits are physical evidence that are collected from the scene. They can also be collected from people such as suspects, complainants and deceased and convicted persons.

Assistance to the courts

Forensic staff aid the courts and the justice process through written reports or in-person testimony.

The aim of a forensic expert's testimony is to provide unbiased evidence that can assist the court to understand what occurred.

It is up to the trier of fact, usually the jury, to decide if the evidence is understandable, reliable, and how much weight the evidence has.

Areas of forensic science

  • This area focuses on the extraction, recovery, repair, enhancement and analysis of audio and video recordings.

    This can include CCTV footage.

  • Ballistics science involves the examination of crime scenes involving firearms. This includes:

    • examination and comparison of firearms, ammunition and their components
    • the identification, safety and function of a firearm
    • striated toolmark comparison.
  • Biological sciences can include:

    • detection and identification of biological material such as blood, semen and hair
    • bloodstain pattern analysis on exhibits and at scenes
    • DNA profiling of samples
    • comparison of profiles from victims, suspects, convicted offenders and scenes
    • comparisons to the National Criminal Investigations DNA Database (NCIDD).
  • Botanical identification of plant material. This includes:

    • identification of cannabis and opium poppies (including at crop scenes)
    • yield estimates of cannabis crops for usable material
    • examination of trace botanical material from crimes
    • identification of poisonous/psychoactive plants.
  • This includes:

    • processing crime scenes of a chemical, biological or radiological incident
    • locating, photographing, recording and collecting human remains at scenes with a number of deceased with questioned identity.
  • This can include:

    • identification and comparison of materials such as glass, paint, plastics, fibres and chemical irritants (such as pepper spray)
    • sampling persons, scenes and items for gunshot residue and later analysis.
  • This can include:

    • attending scenes of suspected illegal drug laboratories, suspicious powders and hazardous chemicals
    • analysing and interpreting exhibits including chemicals and equipment.
  • This can includ providing specialist support to police investigators around fatal and serious injury collisions.

    These usually involve serious criminality (such as culpable driving).

  • Criminal identification can include:

    • creating facial composites based on witness descriptions
    • cranio-facial reconstructions
    • asssitance with preparation of interactive graphic presentations of evidence.
  • DNA management can include:

    • management of DNA samples throughout Victoria
    • sharing DNA information nationally and internationally
    • notification to investigators of DNA links to unsolved crimes
    • co-ordination of ante-mortem collection from relatives of long-term missing persons.
  • Document examination can include:

    • handwriting and signature comparisons
    • examination of machine generated documents
    • examination of documents for alterations, obliterations and indentations.
  • Drug analysis can include:

    • identification and purity determination of drugs for evidential and intelligence purposes
    • production of drug trend and drug information reports.
  • Fingerprint sciences can include:

    • the development of latent fingerprints and comparison with the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS) database
    • fingerprints taken from persons of interest.
  • This includes the investigation of fires and explosions through:

    • scene examinations and
    • laboratory analysis of exhibits to determine the cause of the fire or explosion.
  • At major crime scenes, this area of forensic science can include:

    • scene search
    • collection of exhibits
    • recording the scene using photography and video
    • recording, enhancement and comparison of shoe, tyre and tool impressions.
  • Photographic processing includes the production of prints for court for Victoria Police.

  • This includes the examination of suspect vehicles and other relevant items to establish original identity.

  • This includes the management of:

    • the research, development and innovation of the Forensic Services Department
    • education and training strategies of the Forensic Services Department.

Employment pathways

Information about pathways into a forensic services career can be found on our Employment and students page.

Speaker requests

Each year the Forensic Services Department receives a number of requests for speakers. Only a limited number of these are able to be met.

Make a request

To make a request, please provide the following details via email (see contact details at the bottom of this page):

  • community group name, or school name and year level
  • location
  • approximate number in group
  • preferred dates and times
  • contact name
  • contact phone number
  • if a Working with Children Check is required.

If your request is successful you should be contacted soon after making the request.

Tours

It is not possible for community, school groups or individuals to visit the high-security Forensic Services Department facilities.

Service delivery timeframes for forensic court reports

The Forensic Services Department provides various reports to support the criminal justice system.

Learn about the service delivery timeframes for forensic court reports.

Resources

The ANZPAA National Institute of Forensic ScienceExternal Link advises and assists with the development and coordination of forensic science services in Australia.

The Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM)External Link is part of the Coronial Services Centre in South Melbourne. One function of the VIFM is to determine the medical cause of death, and it employs medical staff, toxicologists and biologists with this aim in mind.

Autopsies are performed by doctors who have specialised in pathology, and the scientists analyse samples taken from the body.

VIFM also performs civil paternity testing for the courts and has medical practitioners who specialise in clinical forensic medicine.

This simplified guide to forensic scienceExternal Link has been created by the National Forensic Science Technology Centre (USA).

Contact

The Forensic Services Department has dedicated email addresses:

If you require your fingerprints to be taken for a police record check, please contact the Public Enquiry Service by:

Reviewed 28 September 2023

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