CSI Portsmouth 2013 Morning Panel - drug crime and posions with crime experts and crime fiction authors

Drugs and drug related crime was the theme of the morning panel at CSI Portsmouth 2013 on Saturday 2 November, although the subject broadened out to include crime in general and crime fiction.

Crime Author Pauline Rowson opening CSI Portsmouth 2013

Joining me at this, the fourth year, of CSI Portsmouth, were crime experts Mick Ellis, Drugs Expert, from Hampshire Police and Dr Alex Allan, a Forensic Toxicologist from Triple A Forensics Limited, along with my fellow crime author, Kerry Wilkinson. 

Left to right Pauline Rowson, Kerry Wilkinson, Dr Alex Allan and Mick Ellis

Over 130 people gathered at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on Saturday 2 November to listen to two panels of crime authors, crime experts and police debate crime fiction and crime fact.  It was great to see so many people there and to welcome back those who had attended the previous CSI Portsmouth events.

CSI Portsmouth was first launched in 2010 from an idea I had about bringing crime fiction and fact together.  I organise the event with Portsmouth City Council Library Service and the Hayling Island Bookshop. It is part of Portsmouth BookFest and is now an established fixture in the crime fiction festival calendar.

Along with the panel events also present throughout the day were the Hampshire Police Fingerprint Bureau team. Emma Bright and Heather Foster were on hand to offer delegates the opportunity to have their fingerprint taken and pressed into a keepsake key ring to take away.

Crime author, Pauline Rowson with Emma Bright and Heather Foster Police Fingerprint Team

There was a mock up crime scene, complete with a body ‘Victor’, provided by students from the forensic science course at South Downs College

Samantha Day, Helen Gittins South Downs College Forensic Science Dept. with crime author Pauline Rowson centre and Victor, the body

Also on the day was a forensic display provided by the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, Portsmouth University on Entomology (maggots, flies) finger mark development (chemical treatments), trace evidence, and DNA.  The Hayling Island Bookshop were also there with a selection of the participating crime authors books.

CSI Portsmouth 2013 participants with morning panel from left to right front: Paul Smith Institute of Criminal Justice Studies Portsmouth University; Emma Bright and Heather Foster Hants. Police Fingerprint Team; crime authors Kerry Wilkinson and Pauline Rowson; Clare Forsythe Portsmouth City Council Library Service; Helen Gittins and Sam Day, South Downs College Forensic Science Dept; Marie and Colin Telford Hayling Island Bookshop; Back row expert panellists Mick Ellis, Hants Police Drug expert; Dr Alex Allan Forensic Toxicologist Tripe A Forensics Ltd.

I opened the event by welcoming everyone to CSI Portsmouth with the announcement they were in for a treat, a prediction that proved justified as the day progressed, and by thanking the supporters and sponsors of CSI Portsmouth 2013.

Special thanks were given to the National Museum of the Royal Navy for donating the use of the superb venue and for assisting me with my research for the DI Andy Horton novel, Undercurrent, which is set in and around the Museum and around the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.

Also thanks to Bello, an imprint of publisher Pan Macmillan, which brings lost classics back to life including many of the classic crime novels from the Golden Age of Crime. Bello were also offering attendees of CSI Portsmouth a FREE ebook from their catalogue.

I then introduced the morning panel. I and Kerry Wilkinson held the fort for the crime fiction authors during the morning and I also moderated both the morning and the afternoon panels. A job made easier by the lively, interesting and informative panellists.  I put the panel under the spotlight for an hour then it was the turn of the audience to grill them for half an hour.

There was considerable discussion about the growth in smart drugs (legal highs) and their ready availability.  Both Mick Ellis, from Hampshire Police  and Dr Alex Allan a forensic toxicologist from Triple A Forensics talked about the dire consequences of using Cocaine and the personality changes the drug induces and how Heroin addicts will commit any kinds of crimes to get their next fix. Dr Allan discussed how he and his team test for drug use and he covered the use and analysis of volatile substances such as solvents, aerosol propellants and fuel gases still abused for their purported euphoric and sometimes hallucinogenic effects and the use of chloroform as a drug which is not so common now in the UK but is still used in many other countries.

The debate also focused on international crime and serious organised crime and the role of the expert witness in trials.

Kerry and I talked about how we became crime writers and what made us choose the locations we have for our crime novels. Kerry chooses to set his DS Jessica Daniel novels in Manchester because it is a city of great contrasts with its mix of rich and poor and therefore provides a good canvas for crime novels, a sentiment I echoed by choosing to set my DI Andy Horton crime novels in the densely populated Island city of Portsmouth contrasting it with the rural landscape of the Isle of Wight beyond the Solent, the busiest port in Europe and one of the busiest in the World.

This was then followed by a book signing and the chance for the audience to chat to the experts and crime authors on an individual basis.

Pauline Rowson signing copies of her crime novels at CSI Portsmouth 2013

The morning session closed at 12.30pm when delegates went off to enjoy their lunch in one of the cafes in the Historic Dockyard. It was an intriguing morning and I and my fellow guests enjoyed it as I know from feedback the audience also did.  The afternoon session began at 2pm. You can read about the afternoon panel at CSI Portsmouth 2013 tomorrow.

Make a note in your diary - CSI Portsmouth 2014 is on Saturday 8 November 2014.  

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