Inside the Ballarat Forensic Hub, the high-security, high-tech facility helping Victoria Police solve crimes – ABC News

Down an unassuming laneway on the fringe of Ballarat in regional Victoria, stands a slate grey building that’s shielded from prying eyes by a towering electric fence.

Inside is a place few get to see. It’s where clues become evidence, crimes are pieced together and mysteries are solved. 

After giving our names at the metal security gate, an ABC cameraman, a photographer, and I make our way through the sliding doors and enter the Ballarat Forensic Hub.

Once signed in by the friendly security guard, we meet the group of forensic scientists who are the beating heart of this high-tech facility. 

Staff at the hub use a multi-disciplinary approach to maximise evidence recovery.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

In contrast to the building’s steely exterior, the scientists are welcoming and excited to lift the veil on the work they do, which is usually shrouded in mystery.

The Ballarat Forensic Hub opened five years ago with the aim of helping police across the western region of the state solve crimes faster.

Prior to 2019, regional police had to travel to Victoria Police’s Forensic Services Department in Melbourne to have potential evidence examined.

Thousands of pieces of evidence have been processed at the hub since 2019.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

The Ballarat hub’s manager, Erin Pirie, says staff use an innovative, multi-disciplinary approach to forensic testing.

This model, unique to the Ballarat and Morwell forensic hubs, equips the team with the knowledge to conduct several tests — such as DNA and drug analysis — on the same piece of potential evidence.

“They can determine what techniques to use first and determine the best approach to maximise evidence recovery,” Ms Pirie says.

Erin Pirie is the manager of the Ballarat Forensic Hub.(ABC News: Danielle Bonica)

“The quicker we can find forensic evidence, the quicker it can help police investigators identify persons of interest and solve crimes.”

Kidnapping case clue

The hub has assisted with many police investigations, including one involving a kidnapping.

Due to confidentiality, Ms Pirie must avoid specifics of the case.


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