We had enjoyable and successful Faculty of Forensic & Legal Medicine 10th Annual Conference at our ‘parent’ college – the Royal College of Physicians (RCP), with a great range of impressive presenters speaking on a wide range of topics of relevance to Faculty members. The feedback was excellent and we now look forward to the 11th Annual Conference in Belfast from May 4th – 6th 2017. The theme will focus on problems related to conflict, and particularly post-conflict issues. The following week I met up with old friend, co-researcher and colleague, Chris de Gara (now the President of the Canadian Association of General Surgeons), finding it difficult to believe it’s almost 3 decades since we worked together at Central Middlesex Hospital, and just under that since we published a large single-centre study on esophagogastrectomy. The two Presidents are seen below:
That same week there was an RCP Council Meeting and then I spoke at the Forensic & Policing Services Association (FAPSA) Annual Meeting, which goes from strength to strength. It was good to meet other friends and colleagues including forensic botanists and mycologists, Patricia Wiltshire (@Palynos) and David Hawksworth and forensic vet, Alex Stoll (@AlexanderLStoll). The following week the FFLM Specialty Working Group met and am pleased to report substantial progress in our efforts to create a defined medical specialty of Forensic & Legal Medicine. There’s a long way to go, but we are encouraged by the success of our colleagues in Aviation & Space Medicine. A slight diversion was attending a conference for personal injury lawyers specialising in military law. This was held (appropriately) on board HMS Belfast, and organised by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, and sponsored by Forensic Healthcare Services Ltd. A fascinating day with superb lectures on non-freezing cold injury and the military deaths in the Brecon Beacons (sadly just repeated). It was a pleasure also to meet MP Johnny Mercer who has a particular interest (as an ex-army officer) in the welfare of services veterans.
A good meeting of the new Vice-Presidents of the FFLM was held with other Senior Officers, enabling them to be briefed on current actions, plans and strategy. Attended the Rainbow Centre at Alder Hey Hospital to review a case – a fantastic facility in a superb new hospital – felt quite envious. A superb team doing a great job for children and young people in Merseyside.
Meeting with Sandy McLean to discuss PR strategy for the Faculty. It is essential that our view about the need for minimum standards in healthcare settings in the criminal justice system, shared by our clinical partners in the United Kingdom Association of Forensic Nurses and the College of Paramedics, is communicated to all stakeholders, and the reasons for our views (protection of very vulnerable people, reducing the risk of deaths and harm in custody, and reducing the risks of miscarriages of justice) clearly understood. Astute legal journalist and writer Joshua Rozenberg wrote an extremely good piece on these issues in the Law Society Gazette – entitled ‘False Economy on Custody’.
Mediation is still not fully exploited as a means of resolving disputes. The Civil Mediation Council Annual Meeting further explored this, under the stewardship of the always-impressive Sir Alan Ward, who was also tasked with thanking retiring Registrar – Tracey Stewart. A relatively up-beat meeting but there is a long way to go.
I travelled to Glasgow at the request (or insistence!) of a former FFLM President, George Fernie (now Senior Medical Reviewer in Scotland) to speak at the 2nd Scottish Conference for Healthcare Professionals Working in Forensic Medicine and Police Custody. This was an excellent meeting with many skilled, enthusiastic and innovative doctors and nurses working in the field.
Met at City Hall with Martyn Underhill (Police and Crime Commissioner for Dorset) and Katie Kempen (Chief Executive – Independent Custody Visiting Association) to discuss our mutual interests in care of police detainees and means of best supporting the police in this work. We hope that collaborative work will develop from this. Have also had a very useful meeting with Dr Gillian Tully – the Forensic Science Regulator (FSR)- in which we were able to agree a common approach to matters of mutual relevance. The FFLM and FSR together are responsible for developing standards for practice in our respective areas of work.
Concurrently working on a research study with Kieran Kennedy and Peter Green to try and establish the number and nature of complaints against healthcare professionals working in police custodial settings or Sexual Assault Referral Centres, to establish whether there are any trends or patterns from which lessons can be learned. Did the penultimate webinar in the 2nd FFLM series on Forensic & Legal Medicine, this one on restraint. The FFLM now has 20 webinars all of which are by, and targeted at those practicing in aspects of forensic & legal medicine, and are of great assistance when planning to take FFLM examinations.
Attended an excellent new programme to help healthcare professionals identify abuse led by the Children’s Society at the the Homerton Hospital. The title of the project is ‘Seen and Heard’ and is in the form of a full training packge and the aim is to roll it out to up to 750,000 healthcare professionals. The FFLM will be strongly supporting this. Have just returned from RAF Cosford where the Defence School of Photography (DSOP) is based. The FFLM, in an initiative led by Will Anderson is hoping to establish a forensic medical photography course. The history of DSOP is fascinating and there is a superb mini-museum. I particularly liked the exhibit which is believed to be the camera used to provide the fake passports – in the escape from the prisoner-of-war camp, Stalag Luft III, which was the basis of the film The Great Escape. A couple of pictures from the museum are shown below:
So it’s been an interesting few weeks. The usual workload as a Forensic Medical Examiner for the Metropolitan Police Service, and assorted expert witness cases also fill in the gaps. A new book should be available in mid-August – Volume 2 of Current Practice in Forensic Medicine, which I co-edit with John Gall. All the details (and an order form – can be found here). Every home should have one (as they should have the 2nd Edition of the Encyclopedia of Forensic & Legal Medicine!
Two final things – a picture from the wonderful Beyoncé concert at Wembley and a picture of the magnificent (a true diva) Glenn Close performing Sunset Boulevard. Two contrasting but fantastically talented performers.
And finally huge congratulations to the Rannoch Women’s Challenge – 5 women who have rowed from West to East across the Atlantic from New York to Falmouth – 3000 miles, in their rowing boat Liberty of Essex after 48 days 13 hours 49 minutes 09s having started on Tuesday 7th June and are pleased to be on dry land. Am proud to say that two of the team – Molly Brown and Mary Sutherland – are long-standing friends of the family. Molly is the youngest female (at 20) to have rowed across the Atlantic. An absolutely incredible achievement. The boat on arrival and the team are shown below:
Hope everyone manages to have a bit of a summer break, to recharge batteries. And finally a couple of recent photos to sign off with: