Celebrating 10 Years of Work

IAFR celebrates 10 years (2005-2015)

IAFR Committee members Edel Doyle (Ireland), Chandra Gerrard (USA), IAFR Chair Mark Viner (UK), President of the Society and College of Radiographers Karen Smith, Secretary General of the ISRRT Sandy Yule, IAFR and ISFRI Board Member Jacquie Vallis (UK)

ISFRI acknowledges the achievements

of the IAFR


A brief summary of the development of AFR into IAFR over the past decade was outlined in the King Richard III Visitor Centre by Mark Viner, a founding member and current Chair of the International Association of Forensic Radiographer (IAFR).

Invited guests on the night included Karen Smith, Secretary General of the Society and College of Radiographers who spoke of the collegiate relationship between IAFR and the SCOR which includes the publication of the Forensic Imaging guidelines (2014) and the Child Abuse guidelines which are due for publication in 2015.

The second guest on the night was Dr. Sandy Yule, Secretary General of the International Society of Radiographers and Radiologic Technologists (ISRRT) who outlined the relationship between both organisations, both of which aim to standardise the role of the Radiographer at an international level.

Copy of Mark Viner’s speech delivered on the night

“Presidents, Chairs, General Secretary, Honoured Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of IAFR I would like to welcome you all to Leicester and to Richard III exhibition. I hope that you have enjoyed the exhibition and the fascinating story of the location, recovery and identification of the remains of Richard III, the last Plantagenet King of England.

Richard III is perhaps one of our most famous (or infamous) monarchs – depending upon your perspective. There are many who believe that Richard has been much maligned over the centuries.  He certainly is the only English monarch to have his own society dedicated to rehabilitating his image and telling his side of the story and it is interesting to note that the current chair of that society, Dr Phil Stone is a radiologist with whom I had the pleasure to work many years ago.

King Richard left us with one of the most enduring mysteries which has puzzled professional and amateur sleuths alike – What happened to his nephews the young uncrowned King Edward V and his brother prince Richard?  Were they in fact killed on the orders of Richard III as the Tudors would have us believe, or is there another explanation. This question has spawned a whole library of books “examining the evidence”.

Whatever the truth may be regarding the princes, it is a little known fact that his reign ushered in some important legal precedents, which we rely on today. His parliament, which met only once, passed just 33 Acts. These were published in English and not Latin for the first time thus making the law accessible and understandable to the common man. The laws included some important reforms to the judicial system to deal with the problem of corruption and bribery of juries which was rife at the time. He also introduced a change to the system of bail to prevent a person from being imprisoned before trial and protect their goods before they had been found guilty –  principles that apply today not just in the UK but in many other parts of the world.

It is therefore fitting, that with this commitment to uphold the rights of the common man, the mystery surrounding the fate of the princes in the Tower and the extraordinary role of forensic radiology in the identification and examination of his mortal remains, that he has kindly agreed to host this event this evening! 

It is almost ten years ago since Guy and I and others present celebrated the official launch of the Association of Forensic Radiographers at the UK Radiological Congress in Manchester June 2005. The launch was preceded with a lecture programme showcasing the developing role of medical imaging in forensic investigation and challenging the professions of radiography, radiology and pathology to equip themselves for a brave new future – a future which has now arrived!

We have put together a factsheet giving the history and development of the IAFR which is available for you to take away or online on the conference web pages. As you will see from this document the launch of AFR in 2005 was the logical culmination of a number of initiatives by radiographers here in UK in the preceding years which had resulted in the establishment of the three groups which came together to form AFR:  The Forensic Committee of the Trauma Imaging Group, Northern Region Forensic Radiography Response Team and the Military Forensic Team. Merging organisations is never a straightforward business and I think it is a great tribute to all of those involved in the founding committee, but in particular to the senior teams of these three groups; John Beamer, Wayne Hoban, Emily Faircloth, Catherine Rock, and Katie Whittam, that the organisation not only gelled together quickly as a team but managed to achieve extraordinary success in such a short space of time.

Within just a few short weeks of the launch on July 7th 2005, forensic and emergency responders in the UK faced their greatest test for many years with the simultaneous detonation of 4 suicide bombs on the London Transit Network with the loss of 52 lives and scores of people injured.  The AFR response team was not only prepared for such events, but had been working to highlight the gap in emergency preparedness for forensic radiology so evident since the Lockerbie disaster almost 20 years previously. The effect of the Lockerbie incident on the radiographers involved – who performed a magnificent job but were unprepared, untrained and poorly equipped – was first highlighted by Fiona Gillespie at an SOR conference in Bath in 1992 and acted as a catalyst for change.

As a result, in 2005 AFR, acting as part of the London Resilience Team response were able to mobilise a team of 27 DVI trained radiographers who worked in 2 shifts over a three week period, and co-ordinate a supply of equipment through industry contacts.  Following this incident, the UK government established a formal DVI team, which includes AFR UKFRR Team and a contract for supply of radiography and CT imaging equipment.

The Association has continued to build on the work started by its predecessors and develop guidelines, standards, postgraduate training courses, CPD events etc  and in all these activities we have worked closely and in with the full support of the SCoR with whom we maintain a very strong and effective working relationship. I am very pleased that we have been joined this evening by the President of the SCoR, Karen Smith and I would like to invite her to speak to you now.

When you live on an island as we do in UK – it is not always easy to know what is going on the rest of the world and we were interested to find out how forensic radiography was being practiced in other countries and learn from these other systems. In 2005/6 I was fortunate enough to gain grant from Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to travel to South Africa, Australia, Argentina and the USA to investigate role and development of FR.  This brought me and through my regular updates the rest of AFR into contact with a number of examples of different systems, ways of practice from which I identified many common issues.  I had the pleasure of meeting amongst others  Gil Brogdon, Nancy, Adams and Jerry Conlogue in the USA, Osvaldo d’Amuri, Cynthia Urroz and Luis Fondebrider in Argentina, Fozi Peer, Leoni Munro, Steve Naidoo, Lorna Martin and Hendrik Scholtz in South Africa and Peter Ellis, Jodie Leditchke at the team in Melbourne Australia all of whom were not only willing to share their own experiences but supportive of the need for exchange of information and collaborative working for the international development of Forensic Radiography.

Through these contacts AFR became increasingly international and supported the formation of groups in Republic of Ireland and the USA and contributed to various educational events in Europe, USA and South Africa.  Gil Brogdon became our Patron and at his suggestion our name was changed to IAFR. As an international organisation we have been strongly supported by good working relationship with International Society of Radiographers and Radiologic Technologists with whom we ran our first international event in Durban South Africa in 2008. We are delighted to have the General Secretary of ISRRT, Sandy Yule with us this evening and I would like to invite him to address you now. 

In 2012 we were delighted to support the formation of ISFRI as we strongly believe that successful evidence based development of this new speciality is dependent upon collaboration and discourse between all professions at an international level. We have been pleased to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with ISFRI offering reciprocal associate membership and the Journal of Forensic Radiology and Imaging to our members.

Like all of us here we were very sad to learn last year of the passing of Gil Brogdon, our longstanding supporter, friend, mentor and Patron. He will be greatly missed by all of us who had the pleasure to know him and work with him. He is of course irreplaceable but we were delighted when Michael Thali agreed to take on the role of Patron and thank him for his continued encouragement and support.

So here we are in 2015 and we are pleased to be holding our first joint congress with ISFRI. Rick will share with you tomorrow details of next year’s joint conference in Amsterdam and the new ISFRI website which has been developed using the same basic template designed for our updated IAFR website which went live last year. This allows many back end functions to be shared thus saving costs. This is just one further example of the benefits of our collaboration and we look forward to developing our close working relationship in the years to come.

So all that remains is for me to thank our sponsors Alliance Medical and the organisers here  – particularly Guy, Wendy, Theresa and team and to wish you an enjoyable evening here in Leicester.”