Without the snazzy graphics and collagen-filled lips of the real C.S.I. the totally fabulous C.S.Aye team consisted of internationally acclaimed crime writer, Val McDermid and forensics expert extraordinaire, Niamh Nic Daeid who often appears on BBC Radio 4 to explain forensic science to the general public with ease and she was interviewed for the wonderful Life Scientific programme.
The hour in their company at the Edinburgh International Book Festival event flew by and it was full of fascinating information about a world that most of us are rarely touched by but nonetheless find enthralling. In the U.K. forensic scientists are agents and servants of the courts and British forensic science expertise was regarded the best in the world.
Niamh Nic Daeid explianed that whilst forensic science in Scotland and Northern Ireland remains centralised and world class, forensic science has been outsourced to 13 private companies covering England & Wales, one of which recently closed down. The resulting effect in England & Wales, therefore, is that often different potential evidence of a case will be processed at different and often competing labs who sometimes will refuse to communicate with one another to the detriment of a case. Another effect is that increasing budgetary constraints on police forces means that forensic science costs have to be justified and there is the possibility that a police force would give work to the more economical laboratory rather than the most qualified. One laboratory in England specialising in fibre forensic science recently closed.
On a lighter note, if any of you are currently arm chair detectives seeking a promotion, the University of Dundee has created a certified and free online course all about forensic science! The six week course will take students into a ‘case’ and brand new story created by Val McDermid exclusively for the course. It starts on 7th September but you can begin at any time. Follow this link for more….Identifying the Dead: Forensic Science and Human Identification.
Val McDermid gave fascinating insights into the accuracy of her writing and how books compete with the ace visuals and fancy technology of TV shows. From never having read any of her books (of course I’d heard of her and the books were on my To Do list!) I bought three of her books and rather greedily had them all signed: the brand new Splinter the Silence, A Place of Execution and Forensics, The Anatomy of Crime (non-fiction). Val McDermid was incredibly witty and if you ever have the opportunity to see her live you should take it!