The 'Father' of DNA fingerprinting opens the new Scientific Support Building in Wakefield
Issued on 3 May 2012
A new purpose built and state of the art centre, named after the founding father of DNA profiling, has been officially opened in West Yorkshire.
Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison and the Chair of West Yorkshire Police Authority Councillor Mark Burns-Williamson joined Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys from the University of Leicester for the opening at the new building for regional police forensic and scientific support at Calder Park, Wakefield.
Professor Sir Alec, who discovered how to take a sample of someone’s DNA and convert it into a unique genetic fingerprint, has given his name to the new £21 million facility which will be called the Sir Alec Jeffreys Building.
The new facility is home to the Scientific Support Department and also houses the Force’s Imaging Unit, Scenes of Crime and Forensics Specialists such as the Identification Bureau and the DNA Bureau.
It also helps to further enhance West Yorkshire Police's use of the most cutting edge scientific techniques in the fight against crime.
Its strategic position, at junction 39 of the M1 motorway means that it also serves the needs of the other three police forces in the Yorkshire and Humber region.
Sir Alec himself was knighted in 1994 for his services to Science and Technology for developing DNA fingerprinting technology first used by UK Police in the late 80s to track and convict the murderer of two teenage girls.
His pioneering techniques were soon in demand worldwide, including by German prosecutors to confirm the identity of Second World War Nazi war criminal Dr Josef Mengele in 1992.
Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police Sir Norman Bettison said the Force was delighted to have named the new facility after Sir Alec.
He said: “The future of successful crime investigation, particularly serious crime, relies upon the advancement and application of forensic science. We are in a position these days to take fingerprints from most materials so long as they can be developed in a laboratory setting. We are also able to take DNA and check it, within minutes, against a database of millions from a hair or a microscopic small amount of blood or body fluid”.
“The best way of preventing crime is if people believe that they are going to be caught through excellent policing or through technological and scientific means. The application of science in policing, therefore, protects us all and I am delighted with this fantastic facility that will enable West Yorkshire Police, and the wider Yorkshire and Humberside Region, to make even more in-roads into fighting crime”.
“The key development in forensic policing over the last 20 years has been the discovery of genetic fingerprinting through DNA analysis. Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys was the person who led this discovery and is therefore responsible, more than the best bobby in the world, for more convictions and successful prosecutions of serious criminals in the last two decades.
It is entirely fitting, therefore, that he has allowed us to name the building in his honour”.
The Chair of West Yorkshire Police Authority, Councillor Mark Burns-Williamson OBE said: "I am delighted to officially open this state-of-the-art scientific support facility, along with the Chief Constable and Professor Alec Jeffreys.
"The specialists working here will benefit enormously from the improved facilities, which in turn will help West Yorkshire Police and the forces in the region to take advantage of the latest in crime fighting techniques for many years to come.
“The Police Authority is pleased to support this investment, as it is good news for the people of Wakefield District as well as West Yorkshire and beyond in the fight against and detection of crimes.
“It places West Yorkshire at the forefront strategically in this area of policing, and I am pleased the Police Authority and the Force had the vision to start this project over four years ago.”