Staffordshire University firearms expert wins grant to carry out international research on gun crime

A firearms expert from Staffordshire University has been awarded a prestigious grant to look at how technology can be used in the fight against gun crime.

Dr Rachel Bolton-King, Associate Professor in Forensic Science, specialises in forensic firearm identification.

She is one of 150 out of 1,800 applicants to have received a Fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to conduct research overseas.

This summer, she will spend seven weeks South Africa, the USA and France to meet professionals from police forces and other crime agencies and will use her findings to inform best practice in the UK.

Her project will look at how different technologies are used in gun crime investigations, and how the police are integrating those technologies to work together.

They might include ways of identifying fired bullets and cartridge cases, and others may be using AI to link cases or utilising police databases to further investigations.

She will then bring back her findings to Staffordshire University, where she will look at how they would enhance the work here in the UK - and within the county's police force.

The School of Law, Policing and Forensics at the University already work with Staffordshire Police under the Forensic Partnership - which recently won 'Best Collaboration between and University and Employer' at the National Undergraduate Employability Awards.

Rachel says that working alongside the force, she knows the pressure their resources are under - and the impact new technology could have on that.

She said: "It is so much more important that we make sure that the processes we use are effective and efficient, and we constantly seek new technologies that enable us to provide real time fast solutions.

"We need support and we need research between academia and police in order to ensure those practices are evolving for future needs and ongoing crime.

"Hopefully we can use my findings to support business cases for new technology or to raise public awareness of how to work with forces to detect gun crime.”

Rachel will follow in the footsteps of other forensic scientists at Staffordshire University who have previously won fellowships - Dr Laura-Walton-Williams for research on sexual assault investigations, and Dr Claire Gwinnett for a study on microplastic pollution.

She said: "They have been able to work with our local communities, nationally and internationally to bring practices back to the UK, but also help solve global challenges and world problems.

You can track Rachel’s travels and Fellowship experiences by following her on Twitter and reading her blog.

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