Dr. Gallop is an old girl of Headington School and her lecture was aimed largely at the Lower VI of that school. Dr. Gallop entered her profession at a time when there were no other women in the business and has risen to be Director of Science and Innovation at LGC. In a whistle-stop tour (her words), she outlined the principles governing her work, the main areas she dealt with and some of the cases where forensic science has helped to convict, and exonerate, people.
The first of the nine principles she mentioned was a quote from Edmund Locard back in 1910, ‘Every contact leaves a trace’; the second dealt with contamination risks and avoiding them; the third keeping records of continuity and so on.
She then went on to talk about the main areas of forensic work. One of these is forensic biology which relates to people, to the blood and other bodily fluids which can reveal secrets about a crime. The slide accompanying this part raised a groan around the room although, to be honest, it was probably due to Dr. Gallop’s almost casual reference to arterial blood than the actual photo! Another area is forensic chemistry which relates to property and Dr. Gallop is particularly interested in what textiles can tell us. Little Sarah Payne’s murderer was convicted partly on textile fibres found in his van.
Dr. Gallop then quickly outlined a few other famous cases, including Lynette White and the Cardiff 3, where 3 people were exonerated after many years because of new DNA testing and the real killer was found and convicted. The same happened recently to Colin Stagg, wrongly imprisoned for the killing of Rachel Nickell. Some of the details she gave were fascinating too: all shoes, for instance, are uniquely damaged by the way individuals walk and so can be traced back to the wearer. My one criticism was that Dr. Gallop’s quiet voice and speedy delivery together with the lack of microphone made the talk difficult for some people in the hall to follow.
And her advice to the girls at the end? You have to deal with dirty objects, unpleasant situations, hostility and lack of money. Don’t do it!