Saturday 20 June 2020

Guest Review: When the Dogs Don’t Bark A Forensic Scientist’s Search for the Truth By Angela Gallop


By the time I arrived at the wood yard in Huddersfield on a bitterly cold night in February 1978, the body of the 18-year-old victim had already been taken to the mortuary.
Never before has criminal justice rested so heavily on scientific evidence. With ever-more sophisticated and powerful techniques at their disposal, forensic scientists have an unprecedented ability to help solve even the most complex cases.
Angela Gallop has been a forensic scientist for over 40 years. After joining the Forensic Science Service, the first crime scene she attended was for a case involving the Yorkshire Ripper. As well as working on a wide range of cases in many countries around the world, she is now the most sought-after forensic scientist in the UK, where she has helped solve numerous high-profile cases, including the investigation that finally absolved the Cardiff Three the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path murders, and the killings of Stephen Lawrence, Damilola Taylor, Rachel Nickell and Roberto Calvi.
From the crime scene to the courtroom, When the Dogs Don't Bark is the remarkable story of a life spent searching for the truth.

Review: This book is Professor Angela Gallop’s account of her career as a forensic scientist and some of the interesting and high profile cases on which she has worked. As a former forensic scientist myself, and having worked with her, I was very keen to read this book and I was not disappointed. What I didn’t realise was she joined the Forensic Science Service (FSS) just a few years prior to me and that we had similar backgrounds in that we both joined after carrying out academic research for a doctoral degree. In fact, we even both had our first experience of giving expert evidence in a Crown Court at York Crown Court.

Angela Gallop joined the FSS in 1974, working initially at the laboratory in Harrogate and then moving to the newly-built Wetherby laboratory in 1977. In 1981, she transferred to the Aldermaston laboratory which is where I first met her. She left the FSS in 1986 to set up a company called Forensic Access which provided forensic science services to a variety of clients, mainly defence solicitors. Subsequently, she set up a number of other companies providing similar services. Her journey within the world of forensic science is described in the book and is illustrated with numerous fascinating and high profile cases, both in this country and overseas. Amongst the cases described are those involving the killings of Damilola Taylor, Rachel Nickell and Roberto Calvi. I was interested to see that a number of my former colleagues in the FSS get a mention. I must admit that I smiled wryly when one of my former assistants was described as urbane and laid back (admittedly, I only knew him when he was young and prior to his going to university).

Angela Gallop makes a number of points in the book, with which some, but not all, I would concur. One thing I was surprised to find, given the nature of forensic science and what I know of the author’s professionalism, was a few factual errors in the book. In her chapter on Peter Sutcliffe, the “Yorkshire Ripper”, she describes the geographical profiling as predicting that he lived in the Bradford area. This turned out to be correct, but he was not arrested in Bradford, as stated, but in Sheffield. She describes the blood grouping system phosphoglucomutase (PGM), one of the grouping systems used prior to the introduction of DNA profiling, as having ten different groups, but goes on to list only eight of the groups. In the chapter on the murder of Rachel Nickell in 1992, she describes the work undertaken at the time by staff of the Metropolitan Police Forensic Science Laboratory (MPFSL) but later describes them as FSS scientists. In 1992, the MPFSL was a separate entity and did not merge with the FSS until 1996.

Overall, however, I found the book to be a fascinating read about the state of forensic science in the UK, with many interesting cases highlighting various aspects. I thought that the scientific techniques were explained in terms that would be understood easily by a lay person. Hence, this book will appeal to scientists and non-scientists alike. As for the cryptic title? This is explained in the book, so you will have to read it to find out what it means.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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