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Forensic science experts gather at the James Hutton Institute

By Lewis McBlane

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AN ABERDEEN conference starting today (April 27) is going deep on soil and environmental forensics.

Head of Soil Forensics at the James Hutton Institute...Picture: James Hutton Institute
Head of Soil Forensics at the James Hutton Institute...Picture: James Hutton Institute

The conference, hosted at the James Hutton Institute's Craigiebuckler campus, which delivers courses on environmental forensics, will bring together 50 European experts.

Running from April 27-29, the event will drill down on how soil and biological traces of non-human origin can make the difference in criminal investigations.

The event is the ninth annual conference of the Animal, Plant and Soil Traces (APST) Working Group of the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENSFI).

Professor Lorna Dawson, Head of Soil Forensics at the James Hutton Institute, said: “We are delighted to host this meeting in Aberdeen and to discuss the work that is being carried out in soil within the UK, on soil, botany and non-human DNA.

"We have keynote speakers from Police Scotland, the SPA Forensic Services, SASA Wildlife Crime unit and James Hutton Limited.

"We look forward to discussing new approaches and methods with our colleagues from across Europe and build cooperation and collaboration and sharing best practice across the world in delivering to the Criminal Justice System."

Delegates will also meet the Lord Provost of Aberdeen, who will welcome them to the city.

The conference’s broad-ranging programme includes sessions on wildlife forensics, soil trace evidence analysis, geographical profiling, biological traces, non-human DNA analysis, forensic botany, microplastics in soil, thermal imaging, and the use of canine DNA intelligence, among many other topics.

Forensic science can provide vital information for criminal cases.
Forensic science can provide vital information for criminal cases.

APST Chair, Dr Irene Kuiper, Netherlands Forensic Institute, said: “The wide range of themes being discussed at the meeting in Aberdeen demonstrates the importance and diversity of this field of forensic expertise.

"Practicalities in casework, innovations in technologies, expertise on calculation of the evidential value and setting quality standards will all be touched on during the meeting.

"We achieve more when we meet each other in person and work together.”

The activities of APST working group lets scientists collaborate, exchange experiences, discuss issues and generate a network of forensic experts.

Wider group ENFSI was founded in 1995 to improve information exchange within forensic science and has been recognized as the top forensic science organisation by the European Commission.

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