POLICE are to consider whether a pioneering new £2m digital autopsy facility in Bradford could be used in serious crime investigations.

Supporters of the state-of-the-art scanner argue that it could be used as an alternative to traditional post-mortem examinations.

Senior detectives yesterday went on a fact-finding visit to see whether the technology could potentially be used for forensic science and the preservation of evidence in criminal cases.

They met with former Government Minister Baroness SayeedaWarsi, a leading supporter of the technology, who was shown how a specially-trained pathologist can conduct a full post-mortem examination on a computer without the need to dissect the body.

The special scanner - only the second in the country - was unveiled in Bradford at the end of May and is now ready to become operational.

It is next to the city public mortuary in Burnham Avenue and aims to improve the performance and results of post-mortems investigations, and create a more humanitarian way of conducting them.

The system, created by Malaysian company iGene, has a CT scanner and revolutionary software, and ends with a 3D reconstruction of a body on a computer screen for a pathologist to examine, which can take as little as 12 minutes.

Detective Superintendent Simon Atkinson, of Protective Services Crime, said: "We welcome any new technology that helps to alleviate the grief for families of loved ones at their time of greatest need."

Baroness Warsi said the technology offered "tremendous potential, not only for families who are seeking to understand how their loved one died and for this to be done quickly and without the need for cutting of the body, but also for police and other authorities who can use it to assist in their investigations."

She added: "This is an alternative to invasive post-mortems. It is better for families and is proving to be incredibly accurate.

"Having a fantastic facility like this is something Bradford can be incredibly proud of."

Ramzan Mohayuddin, of the Heckmondwike-based Saad Foundation charity, which provides help to the bereaved, said: "From the relatives' perspective, why cause them further grief? This is a far more humane way of determining cause of death."

Bradford Council deputy leader Councillor Imran Hussain, portfolio holder for safer and stronger communities, said he was proud Bradford was one of the first places in the country to have the digital scanning facilities, and would be good news for all bereaved families.

He said: "Bradford has led the way from the beginning and the journey has not stopped. There needs to be a national debate and the government, now or in the future, needs to really look at this."