A Calgary college has opened the province's only independent criminal justice research lab.

The lab at Mount Royal College will give academics in the justice studies program access to the latest information gathered by police forces, helping students keep on top of crime trends.

John Winterdyk, the chair of the program, said they have been working to bring a research lab to the college for the past five or six years.

Mount Royal College's lab isn't at all like the forensic lab portrayed on the popular TV show CSI.

"Basically it's a secure room," he said. "A bunch of tables and a couple of computers. So it's not the most exciting place to go into but … I visited the London Metro police crime lab, and it's essentially the same as theirs, except ours is actually bigger."

Students will have a chance to use the tools they learned about in the classroom, working on projects such as identity theft and deaths in custody.

Mount Royal College's lab has cameras, secured IT lines, and restricted access.

"In the past we have been somewhat limited dealing with potential sensitive data, such as the deaths in custody cases," Winterdyk said. "The lab is able to provide the level of security that is required by the [ombudsman] of Corrections Canada. If we do any work with the RCMP — they also have certain standards in terms of sharing data — we can guarantee that data is secure."

The justice studies program has nine full-time and six part-time instructors and offers bachelor's degrees.