Dr Karen Stow BSc, MSc, MBA, PgCE, FFS


Forensic Science

After graduating with a MSc in Forensic Science from Strathclyde University, Karen was the Head of the Forensic Services Laboratory at Greater Manchester Police for 10 years. Responsible for all in-house forensic laboratory services including finger and footwear mark visualisation, questioned document analysis, drug testing, forensic imaging she led on quality and health & safety managing complex projects including laboratory design.


Until January 2012, Karen was the chair of the National Fingerprint Development Laboratories Group, responsible for the strategic direction and good practice. She also chaired the East Midlands Police Forces Laboratories and the Footwear & Intelligence Groups. She was also the National Technical Lead for Forensic Mark Visualisation. Since then Karen has assisted in the review of the Home Office CAST Finger Mark Visualisation Manual (2014) and has conducted numerous research projects within the field.


Karen has written a number of publications


Management & Leadership

As Scientific Support Manager for Derbyshire Constabulary Karen was responsible for the strategic leadership of a team operating within diverse forensic areas including Laboratory Services, Crime Scene Investigation, Forensic and Drug Submissions, Forensic Identification (fingerprints, footwear, gloves & tyre marks), Forensic Intelligence, Forensic Imaging, Facial Identification, Hi Tech Crime, and Forensic Training. She was also responsible for a multi million pound budget, forward planning, policy formulation, service management, health & safety, quality, human resource management, recruitment & selection, performance management and customer satisfaction.


Until January 2012 Karen was a member of the NPIA Forensic21 Business Change Group, the ACPO Forensic Science & Innovation Group, the ACPO National Forensic Procurement User Group. She also chaired the East Midlands Police Forces' Forensic Supplier performance Meetings and was deputy chair of the ACPO East Midlands Forensic Sciences Group. Karen was also a member of the NPIA Forensic Case Management User Group.


Karen's achievements include;

  • Technical lead for a multi million pound, multi-agency Forensic Procurement tender resulting in £5 million savings across the 5 East Midlands Police forces as well as project managing a number of other tender exercises including major re-structuring, design and implementation of services, capital and services procurement 
  • Devised and implemented strategies providing significant savings and income whilst providing improved forensic performance including expanding in-house services, income generation initiatives and forensic submissions policies
  • Wrote successful business cases including proposals for setting up an East Midlands Drug Analysis Facility, Scientific Support Re-structure & capital purchases
  • Led an Expert Network of Fingerprint Experts, Trainers, CAST, CPS, Forensic Regulator & suppliers in a scoping project investigating the application of likelihood ratios to Fingerprint Comparison
  • Successfully managed complex employee relationships and diversity issues including competency and issues associated with change, re-structuring including redeployment and demotion, changes in reposnsibility, shift patterns, merging of units, career progression introduction, increase service portfolio, role changes etc.


Teaching, Training & Academic

Karen has a PgCE in Higher Education and was a Senior Lecturer & course Leader at the University of Teesside for all post graduate forensic related courses. She delivered teaching to undergraduate and post graduate students in Forensic Chemistry, Mark Recovery and Enhancement, Forensic Identification, Imaging and Forensic Management. She also designed and implemented 6 post graduate MSc Courses.


Karen is widely published in her field and has presented at a number of national and international conferences as seen in our publications section. She is a fully qualified L20 Assessor and is an exam marker for the AQA Examination Board. She is an Associate Lecturer for several universities, an external adviser, PhD Assessor, a peer reviewer of academic papers and has been a supervisor for a number of student research projects. Karen has been a member of the Skills for Justice Occupational Committee, the QAA Forensic Science Benchmarking Group and the UK Forensic Science Education Group.


Karen has also negotiated and implemented formal partnerships between businesses, Police Forces and universities to ensure performance improvement and contingency planning.


Quality and Performance

Karen is a qualified and experienced L20 Assessor as well as a a technical Assessor for ISO17025 and has researched and managed performance and quality for over 28 years. Karen was a member of the ACPO Performance & Standards Group, the Skills for Justice Fingerprint Laboratories NOS Board and the chair of Derbyshire Constabulary's Forensic Steering & Performance and ISO Management Meetings. Her achievements include; 

  • Changed Police in-house laboratory service delivery approaches and performance through a UK Home Office funded research project, the recommendations from which were adopted by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)
  • Being the work-stream lead for Custody Forensic Sampling for the ACPO Forensic Science & Innovation Group
  • Led the team that introduced the first fully operational Glove Mark Database within the UK
  • Led the first team outside the Metropolitan Police Force to gain ISO17025 accreditation

  • Led a team to obtain ISO9001 across a full police in-house forensic service range

  • Led the Scientific Support team which topped the NPIA performance list for DNA and Fingerprint attrition for the years 2007 to 2010
  • Reviewed & managed forensic supplier performance/service delivery for 5 Police Forces

  • Implemented a Quality and Performance Unit with Derbyshire Scientific Support
  • Introduced a life long learning and competency assessment regime including assessment against National Occupational Standards, Dip Checking, Proficiency testing, annual assessments and CPD
  • Led an Expert Network to produce a Laboratory Technician role profile with Skills for Justice
  • Led a 2 force project funded by the Forensic Regulator on CSI behaviours and characteristics

  • Assisted a number of organisations with respect to the ISO17025 quality standard

Forensic Focus Win Place on Two Further Training & Development Frameworks

In 2017 we successfully won places on a further two training and development frameworks; one for councils and emegency services in Yorkshire and the other for all councils in Scotland.

Proficiency Testing Accreditation Extended for Fingerprint Comparison

In 2017 Forensic Focus extended their accredited Proficiency Testing Portfolio by successfully extending our scope to encompas fingerprint comparison

For more information about our Proficiency Test Schemes please click the following link.

Proficiency Testing

UK Research Council Grant Awarded

Forensic Focus in partnership with the University of Lincoln and Aberystwyth University has been awarded a UK Research Council (AHRC) grant to conduct a three year resaerch project involving finger and palm marks recovered from medieval documents. For more information regarding the project please access Imprint or https://www.lincoln.ac.uk/home/hh/history/currentprojects/imprintproject/

Forensic Focus Limited Win Place on another Training Framework

Cumbria County Council Learning & Development Framework

In May 2016 we won a place on yet another training procurement framework. The Cumbria County Council Learning & Development Framework consists of several Lots for the training delivery to a number of County Council and Emergency Service customers. Forensic Focus Limited can bid for work in Lot 4 = Fire & Rescue Services & Lot 8 = Finance, HR and Law each consisting of a number of subject areas matching our specialisms.

FMAT Proficiency Testing Accreditation Extended

In April 2016 we successfully extended the scope of our ISO17043 Proficiency Testing Accreditation. Our FMAT Finger Mark Visualisation PT Scheme  is now accredited for Powder Suspensions, Physical Developer and Acid Dyes as well as the previously accredited DFO, Ninhydrin, Superglue, BY40 and light sources.

Forensic Focus Limited Win a Major Contract

Forensic Focus Limited as the lead organisation has been awarded a place on a UK wide Framework for the provision of Leadership Development Services. The Framework hosted by Devon & Cornwall Police, runs for 4 years and can be used by all Emergency Services.

We have been awarded places on 4 of the 6 Framework Lots as follows;

LOT 1 – Executive Leadership Programme

LOT 2 – Executive Development Programme (Individual)

LOT 4 – Leadership Team Development (Executive & Middle Management)

LOT 6 – Specialist Support for Learning Programmes

More details can be found by clicking here or by going to https://www.blpd.gov.uk or through Contracts Finder https://sid4gov.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/login

If you wish to procure any of the above services you can do so without the need for further competitive tendering by contacting Dr Karen Stow at karen.stow@forensic-focus.co.uk or by calling 07816 168759.

Forensic Focus Limited Gain ISO17043 Accreditation for Proficiency Testing

On 1st October 2014 Forensic Focus Limited was awarded ISO17043 accreditation for the provision of Proficiency Testing for finger and palm mark enhancement / visualisation using DFO, Ninhydrin, Superglue, Basic Yellow 40 (BY40) and Light Sources.


We would like to thank those at Nottingham Trent University who helped to make this possible.











Contact and Appointments

Please contact us on the following phone number with any questions or to make an appointment:


07816 168759 (Dr Karen Stow)


or if calling us from overseas:  +44 07816 168759


Please also use our contact form.