Research will feed into protecting vulnerable people from fraud

A PhD researcher from the University of Lincoln, UK, was invited to attend a prestigious conference that brought together key parties to look at how to protect vulnerable customers in the banking industry.

The ‘Collaborate, Innovate, Protect’ Conference, hosted by Barclays in Canary Wharf, London, involved a number of organisations including the Metropolitan Police, Age UK, the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau, British Gas and the Home Office.

Emma Stanley, who is currently studying for her PhD within the School of Life Sciences, was invited to attend the event along with her supervisor Dr Lucy Easthope.

The purpose of the day was to spark ideas in order to provide effective solutions that could be used to protect vulnerable customers against issues such as fraud and scams.

Many issues were discussed including; who should be classed as ‘vulnerable’, how much responsibility should each organisation take when dealing with a vulnerable customer and how should vulnerable customers be dealt with to both enable and protect them. The thoughts raised by these discussions could then be used to improve current practices used by all the organisations in attendance.

Emma, whose research area focusses on document forensics and the changing role of the signature, said: “This event was a great opportunity to showcase my research, which is looking into Elder Financial Abuse from a forensic document examiners perspective. I am specifically interested in inter-family abuse and the evolution of the signature plus the transition to the digital world. It was a fantastic networking event and has provided many opportunities for future collaborations with multiple organisations.”

Chemical suicides research presented at international seminar

Research from an undergraduate student is to be presented at an international seminar on Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) incidents.

Christina Martell, 21, is a third year Life Sciences undergraduate who has been investigating the forensic implications of chemical suicides.

The CBRN Centre has asked for Christina’s research to be displayed at the ‘After CBRN – a pathway to recovery’ seminar which runs from 16th to 17th July at the Emergency Planning College near York.

Chemical suicides are defined as “self-inflicted death by mixing various chemicals designed to release toxic fumes in an enclosed space”.

Although chemical suicides occur fairly infrequently, the rate at which they are being experienced in the UK has increased over the past few years, and is likely to continue doing so. They present a danger to those dealing with the aftermath due to the fact that there is the potential for secondary contamination.

The major challenges for mortuary staff are; dealing with the bereaved (in particular having to explain to them why seeing their loved one may not be possible), knowing what personal protective equipment is required, and having a set of procedures to follow in order to deal with chemically contaminated bodies safely.

Christina said: “Chemical suicide has seemingly become a popular method for people wanting to end their own lives. The question is how do these chemicals affect people working in the mortuaries? I gathered evidence from forensics staff and coroners and came to a number of conclusions, including the fact that facilities and equipment, including special CBRN body bags that can contain fumes, should be available in all mortuaries, both public and NHS. It is rather worrying that one of Her Majesty’s Coroners reported in their questionnaire: ‘We have to send these cases to a neighbouring jurisdiction for post-mortem as our local mortuary will not take them as they do not have the necessary facilities’.”

Mass fatalities disasters expert Dr Lucy Easthope, from the School of Life Sciences, will be leading the seminar to advise on site decontamination, recovery planning and the care of deceased fatalities in a CBRN attack.

The seminar is the latest thought-provoking and challenging event in the Emergency Planning College’s renowned seminar series, which explore the most extreme of threats facing the UK.

With representation from all key agencies, the very latest CBRN management strategies and arrangements will be examined alongside learning from catastrophic international case studies.

This event will also launch a new venture between the Emergency Planning College and Police National CBRN Centre, who are working in association on this seminar and on future training collaborations.


Take the next step with a postgraduate masterclass

The University of Lincoln is offering a series of free masterclasses in more than 20 different subject areas, giving visitors the chance to get a flavour of postgraduate study.

If you have ever considered undertaking a Master’s level qualification to enhance your skills, build your knowledge or to boost your career, the event on Saturday, 8th March is an excellent opportunity to find out more.

The series of free taster workshops and seminars will span subjects across the arts, sciences and social sciences.

Claire Mann, University of Lincoln Postgraduate Recruitment Officer, said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for people to come and see what the University of Lincoln offers in terms of postgraduate study, and how it could progress their career. Postgraduate learning is the next step in education and is open to anyone whatever their age.”

The full list of workshops and seminars cover the following subject areas: Architecture, Creative Writing, Entrepreneurial Design, Graphic Design, Historical Studies, Journalism, Medieval Studies, Photography, Playwriting, Business, Child Psychology, Finance, Forensic Psychology, Global Human Rights, Social Research, Social Work, Sport Science, Animal Behaviour, Biotechnology, Computer Science, Engineering, Forensic Anthropology, Forensic Science.

The masterclass run from 10am to 1pm on Saturday 8th March at the University of Lincoln’s Brayford Campus.

For more information go to

To book your place, call 01522 886644 or email with your name, mobile telephone number and which subject session you would like to attend.

Disaster response expert swells ranks

An expert in mass fatality disasters has joined the growing team of scientists at the University of Lincoln, UK.

Dr Lucy Easthope has advised governments, corporations and relief agencies in the aftermath of major incidents, including the 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes in New Zealand, as well as developing contingency plans, training programmes and exercises with a number of international organisations.

She has also participated in the response to major aviation disasters, the Bali terrorist attacks and the operations at Brize Norton during the military campaign in Iraq.

Her consultancy and research specialisms focus on mass fatalities planning, Disaster Victim Identification (DVI), community recovery and the care of survivors, the bereaved and the deceased after disaster. She also has a special interest in the care and return of personal effects.

Her engagements include presentations to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the US, Chinese government representatives, the Metropolitan Police and the American Academy of Forensic Science.

Dr Easthope, who will be teaching and conducting research in the University’s School of Life Sciences, said: “My area of work looks at the Disaster Victim Identification process and ensures it is logistically supported. That is things like setting up a mortuary to deal with a large number of cases following a major disaster and staffing it effectively. Research in this area is vital, as is archiving that research. It is about saying we should not forget.”

Having grown up in Birkenhead on Merseyside, Dr Easthope’s early career as a researcher was heavily influenced by the sense of injustice felt about the handling of the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, in which 96 people died. Her interest in disaster management was first established when she worked under Professor Phil Scraton, who went on to be one of the authors of the Hillsborough Independent Panel report.

She went on to work with award-winning TV scriptwriter Jimmy McGovern on Sunday, the documentary based on the deaths of 13 people shot by soldiers in Derry on Bloody Sunday in 1972. Her job was to research and reconcile the vast number of witness statements and interviews to ensure a completely accurate portrayal of their experiences.

Dr Easthope then took on a position at Kenyon International Emergency Services; a crisis and disaster management company that offers specialist personnel, equipment, systems and advice at incidents, particularly those involving major loss of life. She specialised in the DVI process and the return of personal effect to bereaved families.

During this time the terrorist attacks in America on 11th September 2001 changed everything.

Dr Easthope, who helped to organise a Kenyon team to be sent out to Ground Zero, said: “All of a sudden my work became mainstream. The experiences I had in those years defined me and have influenced everything I have done since.”

On her move to Lincoln she added: “Mass fatalities research crosses the boundaries between law, social science, psychology, health planning and forensic science and is truly interdisciplinary. The skills students will learn at Lincoln will equip them to be the very best forensic scientists. That is what society needs.”

Lincoln academics showcase their research in America

In May 2013 Dr Mark Baron and Leonie Elie went to Los Angeles, California to attend the 121st meeting of the California Association of Criminalists (CAC).

Dr Baron presented an oral abstract about cutting edge fuel adulteration research using Raman spectroscopy as well as a related poster by his PhD student Kelly Whittingham. Furthermore, he presented a poster on the latest ‘Legal High’ research conducted by him, Mathieu and Leonie Elie. Mrs Elie gave two presentations and showed one poster on her microcrystalline test research in forensic drug analysis.

The event which was hosted by the School of Criminal Justice and Criminalistics featured presentations and workshops in all aspects of forensic sciences such as DNA analysis, firearm and tool mark evaluation, drugs of abuse and several case reports. A detailed abstract list can be found here:

During their 7 day stay Dr Baron and Mrs Elie were also invited to visit two laboratories which performed forensic science case work. They learned about the differences in procedures between the UK and USA as well as meeting with several criminalists in their area of expertise.



Photograph’s from this event have been provided to us by John Houde.