CSI Portsmouth where crime fiction meets crime fact
Saturday 2 November 2013 - Portsmouth, England
CSI Portsmouth was first launched in 2010 and is the brainchild of Pauline Rowson, author of the DI Andy Horton series of crime novels, who organises the event with Portsmouth City Council Library Service and the Hayling Island Bookshop. Part of Portsmouth BookFest it is fast becoming a major fixture in the crime fiction festival calendar.
Crime authors who have appeared at CSI Portsmouth include: Mark Billingham,Simon Brett, Stephen Booth, Ann Cleeves, Graham Hurley, John Harvey, Matt Hilton, June Hampson, Michael Ridpath, Peter Lovesey, and Pauline Rowson.
Crime experts have included members from Hampshire police major crime team, fire investigation officers, scene of crime officers, the hi-tech unit, fingerprint bureau, as well as experts from the Universities of Portsmouth and Surrey on fraud, stalking, forensic psychology.
CSI Portsmouth 2013 is already shaping up to be another exciting and entertaining event. Guest crime authors and experts will be announced over the coming months.
The National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard is to be the new venue for CSI Portsmouth 2013. It is one of the settings for Pauline Rowson’s latest DI Horton novel, Undercurrent, published in January this year.
The Royal Naval Museum, in Portsmouth's Historic Dockyard, is one of Britain’s oldest maritime museums. Its aim is to preserve and present the history of the Fleet - the ships and the men and women who manned them and to make accessible to all the story of the Royal Navy and its people from earliest times to the present.
It’s a superb location with lots of atmosphere and history. The tickets for CSI Portsmouth will also include the added bonus of free entry to the exhibitions in the museum.
CSI Portsmouth is part of Portsmouth BookFest a festival of popular literature organised by The Hayling Island Bookshop and Portsmouth City Council and runs from October 19 to 3 November. Its aim is to promote reading for pleasure and enthusiasm for literature in the city of Portsmouth.
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CSI Portsmouth 2012 - DVD Now AvailableRunning Time 2hrs. 17 mins.
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CSI Portsmouth 2012
At CSI Portsmouth 2012 on Saturday 3 November crime authors Stephen Booth, Ann Cleeves, Matt Hilton and Pauline Rowson, and crime experts from Hampshire Police, the University of Portsmouth and the University of Surrey kept a packed audience enthralled when they were grilled by Cheryl Buggy, Station Director of Express FM radio, in two lively panel debates of crime fiction versus crime fact.
Over a hundred and sixty people attended the one day event held at the John Pounds Centre, Portsmouth hailing from as far afield as the north of England, the Midlands and Kent as well as joining local people to hear what police and crime experts had to say about their work and to listen to the crime authors talking about their novels.
The audience also had the chance to put their questions to the panel and to talk to the team from the fingerprint bureau and students from the Forensic Science course from South Downs College who provided a crime scene.
The Morning Panel
Carolyn Lovell, Crime Scene Manager/Coordinator for Hampshire Police, gave a fascinating insight into her role of managing crime scenes and spoke of how the advances in science were assisting with the conviction of criminals but in turn were adding to the amount of paperwork the police increasingly have to complete in order to bring a case to court.With an MSc in Forensic Archaeology she was asked about the biggest challenges facing her team. Lack of resources and cut backs in the police was the answer a view shared by DC Terry Fitzjohn, Fire Investigation Officer for Hampshire Police, who joined Carolyn on the morning panel.
Alongside Watch Manager Andy Earl from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Services, DC Terry Fitzjohn spoke of how Hampshire Police and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Services had combined to provide an Arson Task Force that had been so successful in not only reducing arson attacks but also in securing convictions that other police forces across the UK were now consulting them wishing to emulate their success. The Arson Task Force set up in April 2007 boasts a fifty three percent arrest rate with a conviction rate of seventy percent, which is 2 to 3 times the national average.
Asked about the challenges facing the authors, Matt Hilton, author of the Joe Hunter series of action packed thrillers, spoke of the pressure of writing two novels a year as well as promoting and marketing them. While Stephen Booth, author of DC Ben Cooper and DS Diane Fry series set in the Peak District spoke of the challenges of writing a continuing series and at the same time keeping it fresh for readers, a sentiment that was echoed by Pauline Rowson author of the DI Andy Horton series set in the Solent area on the South Coast of England.
The panel sessions ended with a book signing by the authors and there was the chance for the audience to talk individually to the authors and experts.
The Afternoon Panel
In the afternoon the audience were whisked away from gruesome crime scenes to cybercrime, fraud and stalking.
Adrian Fretter, from the Hi-Tech Crime Unit of Hampshire Police, explained how ever changing technologies present major challenges for the police and how the public’s perception of crime solving has been raised to an unrealistic level in recent years because of the popularity of CSI programmes on television. Adrian also told the audience that sharing so much information across the web including personal details such as date of birth was potentially dangerous and could lead to identity theft and fraud.
Dr Mark Button, Director of the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies, and Associate Head Curriculum at the Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, University of Portsmouth relayed a harrowing tale of an individual whose bank account had been hacked into and using this and personal details stolen from the Internet the criminal had purchased and downloaded obscene images resulting in the innocent man’s arrest. Eventually the criminal was apprehended and the innocent man’s name cleared but his reputation and life had been left permanently scarred.
It was a case of fact and fiction merging as Pauline Rowson told the audience how this echoed the plot outline of one of her thrillers In For The Kill. In the novel Alex Albury is arrested and imprisoned for fraud and embezzlement after his identity has been stolen and his computer hacked into. On his release from prison Alex sets out to find the man who destroyed his reputation and his life.
When asked by Cheryl Buggy whether his research into Stalking had made him more cynical Professor Bran Nicol said that it had made him more aware of the fine line between what is perceived as normal banter and acceptable behaviour and what could potentially be construed as stalking and lead to more dangerous behaviour. Professor of English Literature at the University of Surrey, Professor Nicol is author of a book on Stalking and has appeared on many radio programmes and featured in the documentary Stalked - to Death, for the Irish channel, TV 3.
Ann Cleeves, author of the Vera series of crime novels adapted for ITV said that she kept the use of technology to a minimum in her books. She felt strongly that people of all ages still have a desire to hear and read a good story and stressed the importance of individuals of all ages having access to well-equipped libraries run by professional librarians, which could offer up a diverse range of literature across all genres.
Again the panel session ended with a book signing by the authors and there was the chance for the audience to talk individually to the authors and experts.
Pauline Rowson says, ‘The day was a great success. It was entertaining, intriguing and very informative. We’re now looking to build on this success for CSI Portsmouth 2013.'