Controversially, I'm leaving the IAFR. This seems odd as I'm on the MSc Forensic Radiography course at Teesside University. Furthermore, it seems as though only 12 people have managed to get as far as the full Masters since the course began, with most people stepping off at the PgCert and PgDip stages.
Of course, it's not all about what education you have in forensics, it's more about the forensics you practice. And that's just it, I'm not doing any with the IAFR, it's all talk and no action. Regrettably, the United Kingdom has had various mass fatalities in recent years but the opportunity to volunteer to help has not arisen. IAFR manage the UK Forensic Radiography Response Team, which was the main reason for my joining. Since joining in 2016 I've asked about joining the team and having training, but unfortunately it seems it is not possible. No training is planned, and no chance of joining the volunteer group.
The Manchester bombing in 2017 - Bodies were imaged with computed tomography to locate bomb fragments and identify the deceased.
I'll be the first to admit that my forensics experience isn't astounding, I've done a fair few non-accidental imaging of (alive) children, but I haven't done many deceased individuals. The whole point of joining IAFR was to increase my exposure to forensic radiography, and in the meantime I would complete my MSc in Forensic Radiography. Of course, I have my own ulterior motives for doing my Masters, like gaining research skills. I also intend on blending my archaeology, radiography and forensics knowledge together. But this doesn't stop me from wanting to join the response team!
At the AGM it seemed as though there were others with concerns about the organisation. The lack of training and opportunities for forensic imaging was annoying people who joined for the specific purpose. When I declined to maintain my membership this year I sent an email explaining why:
* No training for UKFRRT
* No opportunity to join UKFRRT
* No sense of research ethos for forensics
* No impact upon forensic guidance literature
The last point is interesting, The IAFR website states that it fosters 'Development and review of guidelines for evidence-based practice in forensic radiography', but it has no visibility on the various forensic guidelines issued by the Society of Radiographers or Royal College of Radiologists. With regards to research, having joined the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology, I've seen how a volunteer-led organisation can encourage research - from dissertations, thesis, posters, books and articles.
I had a reply to my email. It refuted each of the points I made, and said that there was a CT training date and webinars now available for members. With regards to research, the IAFR has been involved in several aspects of forensics. I suspect that individual members may be publishing about specific aspects of forensic radiography, but not under the banner of IAFR. It also seems as though there has been a breakdown in communication between IAFR and myself, which is a shame.
Perhaps in time I will re-join, but for now I'm saving my money.