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Tātari ā-Whare Whakawā

Forensic science

ESR leads world-class forensic science and research, providing expertise to stakeholders and communities in New Zealand and overseas.

Forensic science header


We provide key forensic science services to New Zealand Police and work closely with other agencies, including New Zealand Customs Service and Manatū Hauora (Ministry of Health).

ESR is an innovative, globally trusted forensic science organisation, supporting safer communities for all.

Our work serves to ensure fairness and equity in New Zealand's justice and social sectors whilst reducing harm in the community.

We are leaders in drug analysis and intelligence, toxicology, and human biology. Our crime scene investigators work with New Zealand Police and other law enforcement, providing expertise in physical evidence analysis, blood pattern analysis, and DNA profiling. 

Through cutting-edge research and development, we apply the latest technology to forensic science. Forensic services developed by ESR including Lumi™ Drug Scan and STRmix™ are now making a difference to communities around the world.

Specialist services

Specialist services

ESR forensic experts provide comprehensive consultancy and training services for New Zealand and international clients.

Bloodstain pattern analysis training


Bloodstain pattern analysis (BPA) is the science of studying the bloody aftermath of violent crime and accidents to help investigators gather evidence. We provide a range of basic and advanced training opportunities in bloodstain pattern analysis in New Zealand and abroad.

Basic level blood pattern analysis training


ESR provides Basic BPA training that can be delivered either at our Christchurch Science Centre or at your own facilities, in a course aiming to develop fundamental knowledge about the discipline of BPA, while also growing ability in recognising basic pattern types as building blocks for complex patterns.

The course is designed for technicians and scientists, research students, and others who require an awareness of BPA science.



A course designed for technicians, scientists, research students and others who require an awareness of the science of BPA. 


The course is intended to develop a fundamental knowledge of the discipline of bloodstain pattern analysis and the ability to recognise basic pattern types as building blocks for complex patterns. 

This course will not qualify the trainee to be a bloodstain pattern expert but will equip them to know when an expert is required and how to work with an expert to get the best results from a bloodstain pattern analysis in the laboratory or at a scene. To be able to claim this expertise an individual will need: 

  • further training in BPA at an advanced level 

  • training in other related areas of forensic science 

  • experience at crime scenes 

  • experience in the laboratory 

  • experience in the court presentation of such evidence preferably under searching cross examination 

  • an up-to-date familiarity with relevant literature in this field 

  • experience with laboratory reconstruction and other bloodstain pattern experiments 

Course Outcomes

Upon completion of this course the trainee will understand and be able to discuss: 

  • the potential evidential value of bloodstain pattern analysis in the examination of a crime scene and exhibits seized in relation to it  

  • the history and advancement of the discipline of bloodstain pattern analysis  

  • the relevant properties of blood as a fluid, with particular emphasis on the formation of drops  

  • the essence of the human circulatory system and how its characteristics can contribute to the creation of bloodstain patterns  

  • how to combine an area of convergence with impact angle to locate the probable area of origin for a given bloodshed event(s)  

  • the limitations and complexities of bloodstain pattern analysis  

  • methods of advanced bloodstain pattern analysis 


In addition the trainee will be able to: 

  • recognise key bloodstain patterns and discuss the mechanism(s) by which they are created  

  • estimate the direction of travel and angle of impact of a single drop bloodstain  

  • apply appropriate selection criteria for the sampling of bloodstain patterns for subsequent testing such as DNA analysis and directional analysis.  

  • photograph, measure, sketch and otherwise fully document bloodstain patterns at crime scenes and on individual items in the laboratory  

  • be able to define the basic BPA terminology and use these terms consistently 

Register for this course

If you are interested in training at our Christchurch Science Centre or at your own facility, please contact course facilitator  Ros Rough  by email. 

Advanced level blood pattern analysis training


ESR provides an online self-paced Advanced BPA training course.  

The course is a combination of assignments, practical exercises and video presentations.  We provide personal feedback on all submissions and can discuss any questions you have about current cases you might be working on. At the end of the training is a mock scene examination and report writing requirement, a written exam, and a mock court exercise in which your scene report forms the basis for your testimony.


A course of instruction designed for scientists, research students and others who require advanced level instruction in the science of Bloodstain Pattern Analysis (BPA). 


The course is intended to build on competencies gained during basic level training. The focus is on the recognition and interpretation of complex bloodstain patterns. 

Course outcomes

Upon completion of this module the trainee will understand and be able to discuss: 

  • How different actions, that might take place during a crime, can lead to characteristic bloodstain patterns 

  • Key research papers in the field of BPA 

  • Case law relating to BPA 

In addition the trainee will be able to: 

  • Analyse and interpret complex bloodstain patterns at crime scenes. 

  • Resolve the chronology of the bloodstains and reconstruct the chain of events where possible 

  • Estimate regions of origin of impact spatter using physical (string), mathematical (tangent) and computer based (directional analysis) methods 

  • Undertake reconstructions, simulations and research to test alternative hypotheses and understand the importance and limitations of modelling exercises 

  • Be able to competently present a written report and verbal testimony to relevant scientific and judicial standards on the analysis of a scene or evidential items where bloodstain patterns are important. 

  • Critically review BPA evidence 

Register for this course

If you’d like to join a course, please register your interest with course facilitator Ros Rough by email.

Forensic scene investigations

We provide specialist consulting services relating to vehicles involved in criminal matters. Our expertise covers the identification of vehicle occupants, number restorations, and paint comparisons. 

Testing & analysis

Testing & analysis services

By being able to identify what’s really in a substance and how much someone has consumed, ESR’s extensive drug and alcohol testing services help keep individuals and communities safer.

Learn more

Research & Development

Forensic research & development projects

ESR’s forensic R&D projects combine casework expertise with research excellence to deliver scientific advancements that improve justice outcomes.

The projects we undertake range in scale from multi-year international collaborations, New Zealand-based contestable funding projects, and internally funded research initiatives.  Many of our projects involve collaborating with New Zealand and international universities including the supervision of student internships, masters and PhD level student research projects.

Our research focuses on the impact end of science. We are interested in projects that have the potential to develop new scientific techniques or breakthrough technologies that can be applied to the casework we undertake and the contribution that forensic science makes to our communities. Undertaking research that has real impact is what attracts people to forensic science and to research in this field.