Staffordshire University
Students from UC Leuven-Limburg in Belgium forensically process a bathroom crime scene, one of 12 new simulation rooms at the Staffordshire University centre.

Behind the (crime) scenes – first look at £2.2m simmersive learning centre attracting students and business from around the world 

2 mins read

It may look like CSI: Staffordshire but this is the very latest hands-on learning environment – preparing students for careers in forensics, tackling crime and fighting for justice.    

The £2.2million ‘simmersive’ centre at Staffordshire University, featuring mock-ups of domestic, cyber and commercial crime scenes – as well court rooms and a prison cell – is drawing in business from around the world. 

Alongside students on the university’s own justice, security and health-related courses, learners from as far afield as Belgium, China and the Caribbean are able to benefit from the ultra-realistic teaching spaces that mimic real life. 

The cutting-edge facility at the Ashley 2 building, forms part of a multi-million-pound transformation plan, which cements the University’s commitment to its campuses in Staffordshire, including both the Leek Road and College Road sites in Stoke-on-Trent.   

Students search for clues as part of a shop crime scenario.

Other investments over the last 12 months include: 

£2.7 million in a Beacon building eSports centre, including a bespoke gaming arena (opening next month). 

£700,000 roof upgrades to the Cadman building. 

£420,000 in Performance Centre upgrades. 

£275,000 creating a flexible teaching space for the MSc Peter Coates Entrepreneurship at the Mellor Building. 

In addition, a multi-million-pound Student Village project will start this year if it receives planning permission. While a number of sustainability schemes – including electric vehicle fleet investment, installing EV charge points and tree planting – are underway. 

The new Ashley 2 building replaces and greatly expands on a mock crime scene house on the university’s Leek Road site.  It includes 12 simulation areas such as bedrooms, living rooms, a custody suite, a prison cell and an office and a shop. 

The mock Crown Court room.

The revamped space also has a Crown Court and Magistrates courtroom, and an observation room. It will also soon include a car port to enable outdoor vehicle forensic activities to take place.  

All the simulation rooms are equipped with the latest digital and audio technology, enabling the sessions to be recorded for playback purposes or to be streamed for distance learning. 

This allows students to process crime scenes and work court rooms in realistic settings, replicating potential scenarios they will face in their future careers. 

Tracking down the evidence in a bed-sit crime scene scenario.

Liz Deakin, Technical Specialist for Simulation and Crime Science, said: “The facilities are used by a whole range of people studying forensics, criminology and social work through to policing students and paramedics. 

“As well as our own students we also attract many from overseas too. We currently have students from Belgium’s UC Leuven-Limburg here who are doing a CSI short course. We also have a partnership with a college in China to bring over policing students to use our facilities. 

“Then we attract agencies and police forces from the Caribbean because they like the way we teach forensics and say it is an even more structured approach than the FBI, who also support them.” 

Liz Deakin behind the desk in the custody suite simulation room.

Liz added: “The new facilities and this building will allow us to expand our cohort and hopefully grow our partnerships with organisations like local police forces. 

“And because we have the new recording systems in each room we can provide virtual training and enhance our distance learning flexibility – to anywhere from America to Australia. 

“This is beneficial to overseas police forces because they can save on travel costs but still get the very best training and learning.” 

The Ashley 2 building, where the simulation centre is based.

Nigel Pye

Experienced journalist with a 30-year career in the newspaper and PR industry and a proven record for breaking stories for the national and international press. Nigel is the Editor of Daily Focus and Head of Creative at i-creation. Other work includes scriptwriting, magazine and video production, crisis communications and TV and radio broadcasts.

Latest from Blog