The debut edition of Forensics Europe Expo takes place 24-25 April 2013 at London’s Olympia venue. But what’s the thinking behind the show’s launch, and what can visitors expect to gain from attending? Event director Phillip Hunter provides the details.
What prompted the launch of Forensics Europe Expo?
The landscape for the forensics industry has changed considerably in recent times. Up until March 2012, the vast majority of forensic testing in the UK was done by the government’s Forensic Science Service.
When the government took the decision to close the service last year, the model for the industry changed for good. It’s now an open and free market, and the challenge is to ensure that the facilities used by people like the police and the legal sector are accredited and up to standard.
Forensics is the second highest expense for police forces after manpower, and in an environment where they are facing austerity measures, budget cutbacks and now, with this new, open market, being able to assess what’s available and up to standard is imperative.
Not only do they need to be able to look at the different types of cost-effective services they can use, and what they’re getting for those services and how much they cost, they are also looking at ways they can maximise efficiencies in the collection of evidence itself, in terms of both costs and time, without being of detriment to their investigations.
There’s also a need for a place where the labs themselves can come and look at new equipment to upgrade their facilities – where they can share best practice through hearing about successful case studies and taking part in an education programme that looks at minimising costs, doing better business and examining the science that underpins it all.
So the point of the exhibition and the conference is to link the entire industry, from labs and lab equipment, through to forensic services, equipment and educators – to provide a focal point where everyone in the industry can meet, discuss the most important issues and the latest innovations, and plot out a course for the next 12 months and beyond.
Who are you hoping will attend the event?
There are a range of core audience groups who should attend the event. The police is an obvious visitor group because they use forensic services everyday as part of their job. They’re closely followed by the law sector – both defence lawyers and the Crown Prosecution service need to have the facility to challenge evidence, in order to ensure the criminal justice system is served properly.
The military and intelligence sectors are also key audiences, as are government and non-government agencies such as border agencies, the NHS, the FSA, the IPCC, HMIC, accident investigation bureaus, trading standards, and environment and benefit agencies, which all use forensic services at times.
Of course it’s important to bring in the forensics labs themselves, as well as the university laboratories, and all those involved with education around forensics.
The other important group that we are targeting is corporate users of digital forensics. These are the people who are responsible for internal investigations into data misuse or intellectual property theft, from sectors such as banking, pharmaceuticals, technology, or critical national infrastructure; they’re all very interested in reducing that kind of risk.
Why should people attend Forensics Europe Expo – and why should companies exhibit?
An important aspect in this evolved forensics market is sourcing the right suppliers – making sure they meet the right standards and have the right accreditation. That’s vital – it’s about making sure you can do your job properly, making sure the criminal justice is balanced and effective, and also means you’re comparing and contrasting prices and managing your budget.
So it’s a chance for suppliers to meet the people who use their products and services as part of their day to day roles, and an opportunity for visitors to find out more about the latest innovations and technologies – such as rapid DNA testing, for example.
For our international visitors, there’s a lot of interest in what is happening within the UK. The Forensic Science Service model was seen as something to emulate, and now that’s changed. They want to know what the repercussions will be, what the new model will look like, and how we’re moving towards that.
Why are you running two conference streams – and what can delegates gain from attending?
The two conference streams are Forensics Innovation – focused on biological forensics – and Digital Forensics. The decision to go that way was based on our analysis of industry trends and the speaker submissions that we received, and those two broad areas stood out as a simple and straightforward means of presenting their content.
There are a lot of organisations out there who provide excellent, specialised forensics conferences with very specific and focused content. But we wanted to be broader than that, with the aim of providing an annual event which brings everyone across the industry together.
The conference programme gives an overview of the full breadth of what forensic science actually means to the job of someone like a police scene of crime officer or an evidence collection team. The conference is relevant not just to one particular specialty, but to each of them.
Delegates whose interest has been piqued by one of the conference sessions can then go on to the exhibition floor and talk to some of the people there about those specialties.
The broad conference scope is also a benefit in terms of networking. We’re bringing the entire industry together, so the opportunity to meet and talk with those outside of your regular area of expertise is much higher.
The overall aim of the event is to promote the sharing of best practice – and to provide a place where that can happen.
Forensics Europe Expo will be held 24 – 25 April 2013 at Olympia, London, UK. Entrance to the exhibition is free by pre-registering in advance at www.forensicseuropeexpo.com and the conference is a paid to attend programme.
Forensics Europe Expo will also be co-located with Counter Terror Expo, the internationally acclaimed event for counter terrorism and security solutions.