WILTSHIRE Police will receive a share of more than £300,000 of Home Office funding to help pay for the merger of forensics services across the South West.

Every force in the country is being granted a slice of a £50m Innovation Fund pot from central government, now in its first year, which will be awarded every 12 months.

Witlshire, along with Avon and Somerset, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset and Gloucestershire, will be given £180,000 to set up the new South West Forensic Science Service, which will look to share specialism across all forces.

Part of £150,000 will also go to Wiltshire Police as part of a bid for new software for management of specialist operations.

Bids are already being taken for the next round of funding, and Wiltshire have put in joint bids with sister forces for £750,000 for digital evidence storage, and £1,764,000 for additional work to introduce digital forensics, crime scene identification and fingerprint and drugs analysis to the South West Forensic Science Service.

Police and Crime Commiss-ioner Angus Macpherson said sharing resources would be crucial for investigations across the forces in the South West.

“With forensics we are looking at the benefits of having pooled expertise,” he said.

“That would become more specialised as we move forward with the project.

“All of the commissioners in the South West are asking if there are things that our own forces do particularly well that we can share with others.

“This will be looking primarily at fingerprints, hardware, and support for serious and organised crime teams, which we tend to deal with on a regional basis already, certainly with Avon and Somerset. Wiltshire is not a crime hotspot but we do need these resources to hand.

“The recent Swindon murder was led by Wiltshire officer Sean Memory supported by officers from Avon and Somerset who brought their own knowledge and expertise to the investigation, so it is clear we do need that shared expertise moving forward.”

Policing Minister Mike Penning said: “I am delighted that every police force in the country showed such a positive, forward-thinking attitude and came to us with new ideas and ways of working.

“It meant we could allocate £50 million to some innovative projects and I am already looking forward to visiting forces and seeing the results.

“Crime has fallen by more than 10 per cent under this government. I believe we can help the police do their job even better by encouraging them to embrace new technology and build on ideas from the grass roots.”