Fingerprint Sections in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington and Christchurch identify latent (hidden or invisible) fingerprints and examine crime scenes and exhibits for fingerprints.

Fingerprint officers:

  • attend serious crime scenes
  • search for, enhance, collect and examine finger, palm and foot print evidence
  • make identifications by comparing recovered latent prints and known offender prints
  • present expert evidence at court. 

The National Fingerprint Section in Wellington maintains the national fingerprint database. It stores more than 430,000 sets of fingerprints, in their original physical form and on the Automated Fingerprint Identification System database.

Document Examination

The Document Examination Section is based in Wellington. It provides forensic investigation of documents associated with crime and other matters, for police and private clients. This includes using a range of scientific techniques to determine the authenticity and/or origin of documents and examining hand writing and signatures to determine authorship. 


The Police Armoury carries out forensic examinations of firearms used in crimes, sudden deaths and accidents. All police-issue firearms are repaired and maintained here. Staff give technical advice to Police arms officers on whether various makes and models comply with the Arms Act 1983.


About 40 photographers work in police stations around the country. They use still or video cameras to record any evidence that may help a criminal inquiry or a later prosecution. Their work includes documenting homicides, sexual assaults, robbery, arson, burglary, drug scenes, car crashes and suspicious deaths.

Scene of Crime Officers

Scene of crime officers lift fingerprints from crime scenes and assess potential forensic items such as blood stained clothing or weapons. They lift, preserve and package evidence.

Scene of crime officers:

  • attend crime scenes and gather, preserve, package and document evidence to help in the investigation of the crime
  • dust for fingerprints, shoeprints, collect trace evidence and DNA. 

Electronic Crime Laboratory

The Electronic Crime Laboratory recovers evidence from electronic equipment (such as computers and cell phones) used to carry out crimes. It also provides forensic audio services.

Environmental Science and Research

Environmental Science and Research (ESR) is a crown research institute. It is the sole provider of forensic science services to Police. ESR has forensic laboratories in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. From these laboratories, ESR provides Police with an on-call crime scene examination service, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

ESR also operates analytical laboratories which analyse samples in the areas of biology (DNA), physical evidence (paint, glass, fibres etc), illicit drugs, toxicology, breath/ blood alcohol and workplace drug testing.

For more information visit the ESR website.