Terrific night at the Monkton Theatre, St Georges Hospital with talks by 3 people at the top of their field. Professor Sue Black who heads the department for Forensic Anthropology in Dundee kicked off with an excellent presentation on how her field of expertise has led to solving the mysteries of identity. This applies to the living as well as the dead. International law states that anyone of the age of seventeen or below is given sanctuary, so many attempt to claim that they are that age. Quite a few cases of strapping 25 year olds at secondary schools came to light a couple of years ago,
Professor Black was a gripping speaker, considerate in the way she presented her material, which involved the evidence of a callous murder and a tragic suicide. She succeeds as a speaker while breaking all the rules and clearly has evolved a way of speaking and presenting that she feels comfortable with and therefore her audience feels comfortable with. She remained leaning over on the desk at the side, glancing up at the screen occasionally and was always on mike, clear and defined.
David Reid from the Metropolitan police has been in the police service for 30 years. He had a dry and succinct way of delivery which was not too marred by the fact that the technical person wasn’t able to fit his mike properly and he had to hold it. He gave riveting, detailed information with more than a hint of humour and irony, on how his department solved a grizzly murder that took place in Mayfair. The emphasis was on the importance of leaving crime scenes as untouched as possible.
There are 13 homicide teams in London with 30 staff each.
Dr Jason Payne finished off this instructive evening with a great talk about forensics in the UK where he works, based in North London. The author of many books, he lamented that unlike Scotland, there is no head of a department of Forensic Anthropology in the UK. The detail of his work was fascinating and we were left wondering how on earth does he find the time to do it all. He has a great voice – didn’t really need the mike – but please get a better design for the background of your PowerPoint display, Dr Payne.