A West Midlands-based forensic company is set to lead Europe in the fight against gun crime.
Forensic Pathways, based in Tamworth, is developing a forensics system bringing together gun crime and ballistics data from across Europe.
The Odyssey system is part of an EU funded project and will, for the first time, automate the collection and sharing of data about gun crime from across Europe. It will also automatically alert police services about links between crimes.
Richard Leary, managing director of Forensic Pathways, said the ground-breaking system will tighten security across Europe and develop a new standard for gun crime forensics.
He said: “As Europe grows larger and barriers continue to come down, it is becoming increasingly easy for weapons to cross borders without detection and be used in numerous crimes.”
The Odyssey system will collect “ballistic fingerprints” from guns and ammunition.The data will be stored to enable law enforcement agencies across the continent to routinely share firearms intelligence in the fight against terrorism and organised crime.
Mr Leary said: “It will instantly alert police and security officials the moment ballistics data is matched with similar crimes around Europe.
“It will mean, for example, a bullet or cartridge case collected from a crime scene in the UK will be fast tracked linked to a firearm recovered in France. From there, it will be easier for police to track the weapon’s history and link it to other crimes.”
The two-year multi-million pound project will massively reduce the time and expense of gun crime forensics. Research has already shown that currently the cost of forensically comparing a single recovered bullet across national EU databases can range between £8,000 for a single country check to £270,000 to compare with several countries.
Other partners in the project, which is one of the largest developments of a forensic database anywhere in the world, are Sheffield Hallam University, UK Police including New Scotland Yard and West Midlands Police, as well as organisations from Spain, Holland, Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Belgium and the Republic of Ireland.
Project manager at Forensic Pathways, Jenny Thomas, added that the new technology will be the first of it’s kind.
“Historically, ballistics forensics has been limited to manual inspections involving one case at a time,” she said.
“Bullets and cartridge cases are not routinely searched against systems in other EU member states.
“There is no technology to do so remotely and physically carrying an exhibit from country to country is extremely time consuming and expensive.”