Forum for Disaster Victim Identification

London, London
Friday, 29 June 2012

This is a Euroscicon Small Conference,  an outline of the day can be found at

Forum for Disaster Victim Identification
Friday, 29 June 2012 09:00 - 16:30

The Penridge Suite
470 Bowes Road
N11 1NL
United Kingdom

Map and Directions

The procedure of identifying victims of disasters either major (such as terrorist attacks or earthquakes) or smaller (such as aeroplane crashes) cannot rely on visual recognition alone. Comparison of fingerprints, dental records and / or DNA samples with ones stored in databases or taken from victims’ personal effects are often required to obtain a conclusive identification. 

This inaugural networking event will gather together experts in DVI to discuss current legislation and techniques involved in DVI

On registration you will be able to submit your questions to the panel that will be asked by the chair on the day of the event

Meeting Chairs
Dr  Vivienne Levy, Councillor- New Zealand Society of Forensic Odontology, NZ

Dr Phil Marsden, President, The British Association for Forensic Odontology, UK

9:00 – 9:45          Registration


9:45 – 10:00         Introduction by the Chairs

Dr Phil Marsden, President, The British Association for Forensic Odontology, UK
Dr Vivienne Levy, Councillor- New Zealand Society of Forensic Odontology, NZ


10:00 – 10:30       The role of forensic anthropology in Disaster Victim Identification

Professor Sue Black, Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification, University of Dundee, Scotland
Every disaster is unique and not all will require a forensic anthropologist.  This talk will discuss what the subject can add to the identification process and when it should be utilised.


10:30 – 11:00      Collection and preservation of biological material for disaster victim identification

Dr Eleanor Graham, Northumbria University, UK

As DNA can be recovered from any biological material, DNA profiling it has proven to be an invaluable method for personal identification following mass fatality incidents which result in disruption of the body, when other primary methods of identification may not be applicable. DNA profiling will only be applicable if a sufficient quantity and quality of DNA can be recovered from the collected material. This talk will describe the types of material which may be collected and will invite discussion of best practice for collection, storage and transportation methods of such material following a variety of incident types.


11:00 – 11:30       Speakers’ photo then mid-morning break and trade show

Please try to visit all the exhibition stands during your day at this event.  Not only do our sponsors enable Euroscicon to keep the registration fees competitive, but they are also here specifically to talk to you


11:30 – 12:00       The utility of DNA profiling in Human Identification

Dr Chris Maguir, Northumbria University Centre for Forensic Science, Northumbria University, UK

The use of DNA profiling techniques  will be outlined in the context  of a 'primary identification technique' for Disaster Victim Identification.   Reference will be made to the utility highly discriminating autosomal DNA STR chemistries and DNA lineage markers.  The discussion will also cover the selection of appropriate reference samples for DNA profiling purposes and potential ethical issues which might arise from using this technique.  The identification of the victims of the Air France AF447 disaster will be discussed.


12:00  – 12:30      Identity vs Identification in the 21st Century: The Forensic Use of Jewellery in Disaster Victim Identification

Maria M Maclennan, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design, The University of Dundee, Scotland
The increased occurrence of mass disasters in recent years means forensic experts have had to become more adept at utilising alternative means of identification should traditional methods fail. Primary methods of identification such as DNA, odontology and fingerprinting are crucial weapons in establishing identification, but can often be diminished in an extreme disaster environment.   Jewellery has long been a signifier of personal identity, marking its wearer as a member of a particular religion, cultural group or life stage. This talk will discuss how design research can assist in utilising jewellery as a method of forensic identification in a Century where our individual personal identities are increasingly under attack.



12:30 – 13:30      Lunch and trade show

This is also a good time to fill out your feedback forms


13:30 – 14:30       Question and Answer Session

Delegates will be asked to submit questions to a panel of experts.  Questions can be submitted before the event or on the day


14:30 – 15:00       The role of computed tomography in mass fatality incidents

Professor Guy Rutty, MBE, East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit, Leicester, United Kingdom

This talk will discuss the role of cross sectional imaging including matters related to identification, and cause of death in mass fatality incidents. It will indicate the infra structure that is required in the use of radiology in these circumstances.

15:00 – 15:30       Afternoon Tea/Coffee  and  trade show


15:30– 16:00        Disaster Victim Identification in a Theatre of Operations

Dr Julie Roberts, Cellmark, Oxfordshire, UK

This presentation will summarise methods of identification in mass fatality incidents where remains are extensively commingled and /or burnt. It will focus on a case study from Afghanistan, the Pamir Airways Crash in 2010, where 44 people were killed. It will also make reference to more recent deaths in theatre emphasising the importance of each stage in the DVI process, from recovery and examination of the remains through to DNA analysis and repatriation.


16:00 – 16:30       Lessons learnt during the christchurch earthquake.

Dr  Vivienne Levy, Councillor- New Zealand Society of Forensic Odontology, NZ

At 12.51pm on 22nd February 2011 a catastrophic Earthquake hit the city of Christchurch, New Zealand, resulting in the destruction of many buildings in the city centre together with the loss of 185 lives. Vivienne Levy was the AM and reconciliation co-ordinator of the Dental section of the DVI operation.

16:30  - 17:00       Mass Disaster, Post Mortem, Identification Techniques and Procedures

Dr Roger Summer, UK

The speaker will present a detailed account of many of the practices involved in mortuary procedures and the positive identification of human remains which may have a significant effect on the outcome of an enquiry, investigation or inquest.


The presentation will address the establishment of cordons, scene preservation and security at the incident site, body recovery techniques including the chain of continuity and the associated health and safety and risk assessment considerations.  The temporary storage of human remains prior to their transportation from the incident site to the location where the authorised autopsy will be conducted.  The established protocols and procedures associated with positive identification techniques relating to the unknown dead which are normally performed within a post-mortem room environment.  The duties and responsibilities of those who may be involved in the investigative and clinical procedures. 


Strategies will also be identified for accommodating the needs of the media who always invoke a keen interest post incident.  The establishment of both post-mortem and anti-mortem centres, the important aspects associated with relative liaison, the creation of a body repatriation centre and the requirements of the various religious denominations involved when any incident or disaster has taken place. 


17:00                     Chairman’s summing up


About the Chairs

Vivienne Levy, originally from England, is a Dental Surgeon and Forensic Odontologist living and working in New Zealand.  As well as running her own Dental Practice in Christchurch, she has had over 25 years experience in Forensic Odontology. She was on the National Executive of the New Zealand Society of Forensic Odontology, and is the Canterbury & the West Coast Coordinator for the Forensic Dentists. She was deployed to  Phuket after the Boxing Day Tsunami working at the DVI , and most recently was the Dental AM and Recon Co-Ordinator for the DVI Operation after the devastating Earthquake of 22nd February 2011 in Christchurch , New Zealand.


Phil Marsden is a Dental Surgeon and practising Forensic Odontologist and is based in London. He is currently the President of the British Association for Forensic Odontology and one of the Dental Identification Managers for UK DVI. He has been deployed home and abroad, including plane crashes in Thailand and the Comoros islands, the Asian Tsunami, the 7/7 London bombings and more recently to Christchurch New Zealand following last year’s earthquake. He is an examiner for the Diploma in Forensic Human Identification and has a particular interest in Human Identification and dental age assessment.


About the Speakers

Eleanor Graham is a Lecturer in Forensic Science in the Department of Chemical and Forensic Sciences, School of Life Science. She studied for her first degree in Biochemistry at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) before completing an MSc in Biomolecular Archaeology jointly run by UMIST and the University of Sheffield.  She then moved to the University of Leicester to complete her PhD under the supervision of Professor Guy Rutty, where she stayed to work as a Post-Doctoral Research Associate between before taking up her position at Northumbria University.

Eleanor is a member of the Forensic Science Society, the International Society of Forensic Genetics and the British Association for Human Identification.  In 2008, she got the ‘highly commended’ for ‘The University Biopsy Tool’ at the 2008 Da Vinci Health Technology awards.


Maria Maclennan is a Designer Researcher and current PhD Scholar at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design (DJCAD) at The University of Dundee. She is currently undertaking an ESRC CASE PhD Scholarship in collaboration with the University’s world-renowned Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID).

Maria’s Doctoral research into ‘Forensic’ Jewellery is primarily concerned with exploring how design methods can be employed to better utilise jewellery in the forensic process of Disaster Victim Identification (DVI). Maria previously graduated with a Bachelor of Design (with Honours) in Jewellery and Metal Design and a Master of Design (with Distinction).


Sue Black is director of the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification.  Awarded OBE for services to forensic anthropology in Kosovo.  Awarded Police Commendation from ACPO for DVI training.  Lead Anthropologist on Mass Fatalities Home Office committee.  Lead Anthropologist on Interpol sub-committee for DVI.  Author of two texts on DVI.


Eleanor A.M. Graham graduated from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST) in 2000 gaining a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry. This was followed in 2002 by an MSc in Biomolecular Archaeology at the University of Sheffield. Eleanor studied for her PhD in Forensic DNA Profiling at the East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit, University of Leicester, graduating in January 2008. Her research interests include DNA transfer and persistence and the application of low-template DNA profiling methods to casework scenarios. She is currently employed as a lecturer in forensic science at Northumbria University.


Guy Rutty holds the Foundation Chair in Forensic Pathology at the University of Leicester where he is Chief Forensic Pathologist.  His principal work relates to the provision of forensic pathology services to HM Coroners and police forces of the East Midlands.  He also provides forensic pathology services to other police forces of the United Kingdom as well as opinion work for both prosecution and defence for solicitors and police forces alike.  He provides forensic pathology and mass disaster services to police forces and countries internationally.  In addition he has published over 200 publications including original peer reviewed papers, review articles, editorials, case reports, letters and abstracts (those related to national and international meetings), and was the founder Editor-in-Chief of the International Forensic Journal, Forensic Science, Medicine and Pathology which I edited until December 2008. 

Awards include;  Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioners Commendation

Most relevant,  Professor Rutty  is a member of the Pathology Sub Committee of the Steering Committee for Disaster Victim Identification for Interpol and the Chair of the Forensic Imaging Sub Committee of the Interpol DVI Pathology Sub Committee


As a former Director of Forensic Services in the Police Service, Roger Summers had a corporate senior management responsibility for the Force Scientific Support, Fingerprint and Forensic Photography Departments, Chemical Development Laboratories, Forensic Submissions Facility, Technical Support Unit and Forensic Medical Examiners.  Now a multi-skilled senior manager, he has over thirty eight years continuous experience in all scientific support disciplines.  Operationally, Roger has been involved in numerous murder investigations and many high profile cases, locally, nationally and internationally, almost all of which have led to successful detections, the offenders convicted.  He was a Forensic advisor to a former Deputy Chief Constable for over 15 years.  During his career he was an active member of many high profile committees. Roger helped make American legal history by preparing and producing photographic ‘bite mark’ evidence leading to the successful prosecution of a rapist-murder (the first time any person had been charged and convicted of ‘first degree murder’ solely on ‘bite mark’ evidence in the USA).  These pioneering techniques have now been accepted as the norm when Forensic Odontological evidence is presented in the judicial process worldwide.

A senior lecturer of international repute, Roger has given several hundred professional lectures and presentations some so far afield as America, Germany, Hungary, India, Jamaica, Mauritius, Russia and Switzerland.  He was a member of the initial multi-national task force team, deployed at the request of the Australian and Thai governments in the wake of the Asian Tsunami where he assisted in establishing forensic protocols for the identification of thousands who perished as a result of the Tsunami.    Roger was invited to perform the role of Forensic Consultant, Lecturer at the inaugural and validation stages of the pioneering BSc (Hons) Forensic Science Degree at the University of Derby.  His involvement continues at all levels of the forensic science undergraduate and postgraduate academic process as a Senior Lecturer in Forensic and Crime Science at Staffordshire University.  Amongst his responsibilities at the University is to design bespoke short courses in respect of ‘Continuous Professional Development’, both within the sphere of Academia and the wider external organisations and Public sectors.  On Christmas Eve 2006, Roger returned to the UK, having spent a number of weeks on deployment as a member of the forensic investigation team in Brazil following their worst “Air Disaster” when two aircraft collided at 37,000ft above the Amazon Jungle.  More recently in 2010, he was called in by the Lebanese Authorities and Ethiopian Airlines to lead the disaster victim identification protocols and strategies involved with a disaster.  He also acted as Forensic liaison between all countries involved.  A Boeing 737-800 crashed into the Mediterranean Sea in stormy weather shortly after takeoff from Beirut Rafik Hariri International Airport.  None of the 90 passengers and crew on board survived.

His expertise in Human Identification Techniques and forensic related matters are much in demand internationally both from a teaching and operational perspective.


Julie Roberts is Senior Anthropologist at Cellmark Forensic Services and has over 17 years  experience as an archaeologist and biological anthropologist. She holds a Doctoral degree (PhD) in the subject of Forensic Anthropology from the University of Glasgow, a Master of Science degree (MSc) in Osteology, Palaeopathology and Funerary Archaeology from the University of Sheffield, and a Bachelor of Arts degree (BA Hons) in Archaeology and Ancient History from the University of Manchester. Her professional experience includes Lead Anthropologist following the bombings in London in 2005, and multiple deployments to Kosovo, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon and Afghanistan as a forensic anthropologist assisting with the exhumation and identification of victims of war-crimes, air-crashes and terrorist incidents. Julie is a founder member of the British Association of Forensic Anthropologists (BAFA), a member of the British Association of Human Identification (BAHID) and the Forensic Science Society (FSSoc), and she represents UK anthropologists on the Forensic Provision Expert Panel advising the Home Office on Disaster Victim Identification. She is registered with the National Police Improvement Agency (NPIA) as an Expert Advisor in Forensic Anthropology and Archaeology. She has lectured on the subjects of Anthropology and Archaeology to under-graduates and post-graduates at the University of Glasgow and provides training courses in the recovery and identification of human remains for police officers (civilian and military) and crime scene investigators.


Before joining the Northumbia University Centre for Forensic Science Chris Maguire had a 30 year career with the Forensic Science Service. Dr Maguire has a particular expertise in the use of DNA profiling for human identification, including missing person’s enquiries, mass fatality incidents and familial searching of DNA databases. He has worked with the ACPO Disaster Victim Identification Team, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Home Office, Interpol and other international agencies in the identification of the victims of mass fatality incidents,  including the Waco incident, World Trade Centre (9/11), MV Gaul, South East Asia Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina and Air France (AF447) air crash.



Keywords:  Forensic Anthropology, Anatomy, Identification, DVI, Forensic Jewellery, Design Research, Identity, Emergent Identification Technologies,  Disaster Victim Identification, DNA, collection, storage, transportation, computed tomography, mas fataility, identification, logistics, cause of death, Earthquake,Christchurch, reconciliation,dental, mortuary, pathology, Mass Disaster, Post Mortem, autopsy, anti-mortem, repatriation, DNA Profiling, Lineage markers, Ethics, AF447, Commingled remains,  anthropology, DNA, Afghanistan


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