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Dstl - Porton Down

Tue, 10/03/09 - 16:26 - researcher

United Kingdom
51° 8' 8.9448" N, 51° 8' 8.9448" E


Field Notes

‎DSTL Porton Down is one of the most sensitive and secret experimental sites in the UK. The site is based around a technology park conducting scientific and military research, including forensic DNA and a technology transfer initiative - Ploughshare Innovations. Historically, it is also the site which has been linked to many infamous incidents relating to biochemical warfare experiments, also conducted off-site and including spraying public places - Salisbury and Weymouth, for example. Site is adjacent to MOD Boscombe Down and the entire area is wrapped by a large area of land which is declared as a Danger Zone.

From the MOD website:

The Establishment closed as a Ministry of Defence facility on 31 March 1979 and re-opened the next day as the Centre for Applied Microbiology and Research (CAMR) within the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS). In April 1994, CAMR moved from PHLS centre to the Microbiological Research Authority (MRA), reporting to the Department of Health and still continuing the programme in civil microbiological research started in 1979.

Thus, by 1991 the Chemical Defence Establishment became the Chemical and Biological Defence Establishment and was one of the six new Defence Support Agencies. In 1995, the Establishment became part of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA), an executive agency of MOD evolved in 1994 from proposals of the "Front Line First" Defence Cost Studies. In 2001, DERA split into two organisations: QinetiQ, a private company, and Dstl (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory), which remains an agency of MOD. Porton Down is now known as Dstl, Porton Down.

The above text is taken from the article "Porton Down: a brief history" by G B Carter, Porton Down's official historian. A more in-depth account can be found in Mr Carter's book Chemical and Biological at Porton Down 1916-2000 (The Stationery Office, 2000).

Of all sites visited to date, it has one of the broadest research programmes, employing 3500 staff. Work covers but is not limited to:

Air and Weapons Systems
This Department provides analysis of systems on platforms and weapons systems that use the aerial battlespace.

Biomedical Sciences
This Department provides MOD with the science base for the development of effective countermeasures for personnel against chemical and biological agents, blast and ballistics.

This Department conducts research and provides advice on the detection and decontamination of chemical and biological agents and explosives.

Environmental Sciences
This Department manages, monitors and controls environmental, radiological and chemical weapons demilitarisation hazards.

Information Management
This Department provides high quality and timely technical support, analysis, consultancy and research.

Joint Systems
This Department provides Systems advice in support of MOD decision making on complex issues which cross environmental boundaries.

Land Battlespace Systems
This Department provides analysis and advice on land systems, including vehicles, weapons and battlefield command and control systems.

Naval Systems
This Department provides analysis and advice on all maritime systems.

Physical Sciences
This Department provides protection science, dispersion physics, material science and armour physics expertise.

Policy and Capability Studies
This Department undertakes high-level operational analysis to support the Ministry of Defence and Government.

Security Sciences
This Department provides focus for counter-terrorism and support to frontline operations.

Sensors and Countermeasures
This Department researches and develops sensor and countermeasure technology for the Ministry of Defence by pushing the boundaries of science to protect lives at sea, on land and in the air.

The Mike Kenner Archive

Following research into Dark Places, we met with the extraordinary researcher Mike Kenner. His archive was donated to the Office of Experiments in 2009, and is the first archive in a new Office of Experiments resource - The Autonomous Research Collection or the ARC.