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Drugs and poisons on the morning panel at CSI Portsmouth 2013

The audience at CSI Portsmouth 2013Over 130 people gathered at the National Museum of the Royal Navy in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard on a blustery day, punctuated by the occasional shower, 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.

Crime author, Pauline Rowson with Emma Bright and Heather Foster Hants. Police Fingerprint Team at CSI Portsmouth 2013Along 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.

Sam Day, Helen Gittins South Downs College Forensic Science Dept. with crime author Pauline Rowson centre and Victor, the bodyThere was a mock up crime scene, complete with a body ‘Victor’, provided by students from the forensic science course at South DownsCollege

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 And a forensic display provided by the Institute ofCriminal 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.

Crime Author Pauline Rowson opening CSI Portsmouth 2013 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.

Pauline Rowson, Kerry Wilkinson, with crime experts Dr Alex Allan Forensic Toxicologist Tripe A Forensics and Mick Ellis Hants Police Drug expertI then introduced the morning panel. I and Kerry Wilkinson were to hold the fort for the crime fiction authors during the morning and I was also to moderate 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.

Morning Panel Discussion CSI Portsmouth 2013There was a discussion about the growth in smart drugs.  Many are not illegal and although warnings against using them and how seriously they can damage someone’s health and indeed kill, they still proliferate and are a big concern for police and health experts. 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 Alex Allan answering a question on the panel at CSI Portsmouth 2013Dr Allan discussed how he tests 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 some other countries. The debate also focused on international crime and serious organised crime and the role of the expert witness in trials.

CSI Portsmouth morning panel sessionKerry and I talked about how we became crime writers and why we choose the locations for our crime novels. Kerry's DS Jessica Daniel novels are set in Manchester, 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.

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

The morning session closed at 12.30pm when delegates went off to enjoy their lunch in one of the cafes in the Historic Dockyard. The afternoon session began at 2pm. You can read about the afternoon panel at CSI Portsmouth 2013 on tomorrow's blog.

You can follow CSIPortsmouth on Twitter  and on Facebook. 

CSI Portsmouth 2014 is on Saturday 8 November. Tickets go on sale in September 2014.

With special thanks 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 AndyHorton novel, Undercurrent, which is set in and around the Museum and around the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Also thanks to Bello, part of publisher Pan Macmillan, which brings lost classics back to print including many of the classic crime novels from the Golden Age of Crime.

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NOVEMBER 4TH, 2013 @ 7:59:54 GMT


RE: Drugs and poisons on the morning panel at CSI Portsmouth 2013

My first CSI Portsmouth which was absolutely brillant. Bringing together writers and practitioners worked well and I learnt a lot. I am slowly writing a seaside located crime novel. I look forward to 2014 CSI Portsmouth.

Tony Smith


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