On 24-26 June 2015 in Toruń, the International Scientific Conference – the 6th Forensic Symposium of the Polish Forensic Association, entitled “Forensic Science – the unity between science and practice” brought together the participants from both Europe and the United States. The conference was held in Copernicus Hotel.
The organizers of this scientific event, addressed to forensic researchers and practitioners were: Polish Forensic Association, Faculty of Law and Administration of Nicolas Copernicus University in Toruń, Faculty of Law and Administration of Warsaw University, Central Forensic Laboratory of the Police Research Institute and the Polish Security Printing Work.
Conferences organised by the Polish Forensic Association belong to the most noteworthy and biggest forensic events nationally, by gathering hundreds of forensic practitioners, representatives of university forensic departments, police schools, forensic laboratory experts, police and other law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges and other attendees, whose profession largely relies on forensic science.
Traditionally, the conferences are called “Forensic Symposia” by making a reference to the first event of that kind organised in 1978 in partnership with the Prof. J. Sehn Institute of Forensic Research in Cracow. After many years, the Polish Forensic Association, responding to the need of forensic practitioners, decided to reactivate the idea of national forensic conferences and in 1999 organised the 2nd Forensic Symposium – Forensic Science in Bystra Śląska.
In the years that followed, the conferences continued to take place; the most recent one – the 5th Forensic Symposium – Forensic Science: myths and reality was organised on 28-30 May 2009 in Ciechocinek.
The leading theme of this year’s, the 6th Conference: Forensic Science – unity between science and practice reflects precisely the topics of discussions. The Conference included five thematic sessions:
Session 1: Present trends and methods of forensic examination
Session 2: Forensic examination and the amended penal law model
Session 3: Scientific evidence and forensic science
Session 4: Expert witness in judicial process
Session 5: Forensic issues related to contemporary crime
The organizers also offered a poster session, which provided the opportunity to present individual achievements in form of concise overviews, schemes and photographs.
The opening lecture entitled: “Trends in developments of forensic science – creation of “national” model or co-creation of the European forensic area?” was delivered by Professor Henry Malewski, who represented the Lithuanian Forensic Association.
All presented lectures had been carefully selected. The speakers skillfully merged scientific issues with practice, which was particularly interesting and important from the audience perspective. A great deal of attention was devoted to the consequences of amendments of penal law which entered in force in July this year (prof. dr hab. Jan Widacki, prof. dr hab. Bogusław Sygit, dr Damian Wąsik, mgr Marta Janocha, dr hab. prof. nadzw. Anna Koziczak), as well as the situation of expert witnesses (dr Magdalena Tomaszewska-Michalak), especially in the context of the act on court experts, whose enactment has been delayed for years (prof. dr hab. Ewa Gruza, prof. dr hab. Tadeusz Tomaszewski, prof. dr hab. Piotr Girdwoyń).
The most extensive thematic panel was devoted to the lectures on new examination techniques and methods used in forensic casework. Among others, novel methods for handwriting and questioned document examinations were discussed (prof. dr hab. Tadeusz Widła, mgr Krzysztof Przybysz, mgr Ewelina Jakielaszek) alongside new challenges such as e-writing and biometric signatures (mgr Andrzej Łuszczuk, dr Mieczysław Goc, dr Tomasz Dziedzic), forensic IT examinations (mgr Bartosz A. Adamus), chemical analysis (dr Marcin Gawryś), application of scanning electron microscopy (dr Anna Łasińska), voiceprint examinations (dr Rafał Korycki), Polygraph examination (dr hab. prof. nadzw. Ryszard Jaworski), trace analysis (dr hab. prof. IES Jolanta Wąs-Gubała). Difficulties and problems related to a proper and effective enforcement of law and intelligence activities were pointed out (prof. nadzw. dr hab. Adam Taracha), including the ones connected with fight against economic organised crime (dr Piotr Herbowski), issuing forensic opinion in road accident cases (dr Małgorzata Żołna) and in shooting incidents (mgr Daniel Mańkowski), or the role of forensic anthropologist in penal proceeding (mgr Andrzej Czubak).
Considerable time during the conference was also devoted to the issues of scientific evidence, by bringing up the perspective of scientific theory (prof. dr hab. Jerzy Kasprzak, dr hab. prof. UWM Jarosław Moszczyński) and casuistry (prof. dr hab. Józef Wójcikiewicz, dr hab. prof. UMK Violetta Kwiatkowska-Wójcikiewicz).
In addition to the representatives of Polish scientists and practitioners, invited foreign speakers from Lithuania, Slovakia, the United Kingdom and the United States also shared their experience by giving lectures.
Foreign speakers presented the problems related to expert witnesses in their countries („Problems of selection, evaluation, certification of persons intending to become registered forensic experts in Lithuania” – doc. dr Gabrielė Juodkaitė-Granskienė) and forensic examination systems („Forensic examinations in Lithuanian Police: tradition and present state” – Genrikas Nedveckis, Head of Forensic Expertise Centre of Lithuanian Police), adversarial judicial system in the USA („Fixing problems in the adversarial judicial system in the USA”, prof. Peter Bilous, Director of Forensic Science Program Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry), possible international cooperation in the field of forensic science („Forensic science in an adversarial criminal justice system: are recent legal and organisational developments in England and Wales relevant to Poland or international criminal justice cooperation between our countries?” – prof. Tim Wilson, dr Chris Wood, Northumbria University), as well as drug case investigations („Investigation of emerging drug related deaths and automobile crashes using forensic science methods” – dr Michael F. Rieders, Forensic Toxicologist and Lab Director NMS Labs).
A special ceremony during the conference served to signing the agreement on cooperation between the Lithuanian Forensic Association and Polish Forensic Association.
This event was added a splendour by the special guest, Prof. Henry Lee – one of the world foremost forensic scientist, expert in O.J. Simpson case, forensic investigator in post World Trade Center attack, DC sniper shooting, as well as forensic advisor in the reinvestigation of assassination of John F. Kennedy. Profesor Henry Lee is a lecture professor and a visiting professor (University of New Haven and East China University of Political Science and Law), and the founder of Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science.
The conference enjoyed an enormous interest amongs scientific and forensic practitioners by gathering more than 180 participants. The submitted 60 presentations were carefully reviewed and the most representatives ones for thematic sessions were chosen to be included in conference agenda. All presentations, after having been submitted and positively reviewed, shall be contained in post-conference publication. The summaries of presentations and poster abstracts have been already published in conference material. The conference served as the occasion to become acquainted with Polish but also international problems and achievements of forensic science.
The conference was organised under the honorary auspices of Polish Police Commander-In-Chief, media patronage: “Policja 997” monthly magazine issued by the Police Headquarters and “Człowiek i Dokumenty” quarterly issued by the Polish Security Printing Works, whereas SHIM-POL company was the strategic partner.
by Dr. M. Goc,
Dr. K. J. Furman