Drugs and poisons on the morning panel at CSI Portsmouth 2013 where crime fiction meets crime fact

Over 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.

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.

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

And 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.

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.

Crime author Kerry Wilkinson and I debated the crime fiction side while crime experts Dr Alex Allan Forensic Toxicologist  from Triple A Forensics and Mick Ellis Hampshire Police Drug expert talked about their experiences with drug related crime. 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.  This was 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. More about that in a later blog..

You can follow CSI Portsmouth 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 Andy Horton 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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