The woman who solves murders: a forensic scientist gives us an insight into her daily life

As a young girl growing up in Oxford, Angela Gallop spent her time poring over crime reports in the Sunday papers her father brought home.

Today she is Professor Angela Gallop, CBE – a top forensic scientist, responsible for helping to solve a slew of headline- grabbing murders, including Stephen Lawrence and Rachel Nickell. She’s called in to work on cold cases worldwide and sits on boards that advise foreign countries how to tackle unsolved crimes. Despite making her mark in what was a hugely male- dominated line of work, few people have ever heard of her.

That’s about to change as her new book, When the Dogs Don’t Bark, reveals the fascinating journey she made to becoming one of the first female forensic scientists.

Professor Gallop fell into a career in forensic science by chance. After studying Botany at the University of Sheffield, she returned to Oxford
to study a DPhil in Biochemistry, specialising in a project examining sea slugs on the Isle of Wight.

“I realised I wanted a more immediate audience for my efforts, and one day a friend of mine showed me an interesting advert in the paper for the Forensic Science Service – it was a job in Harrogate.”

Angela joined in 1974 aged 24, at a time when murder investigations were not considered suitable for young women. “When I first started out, my boss kept on making allusions to me going home and doing the washing-up. He didn’t think forensic science was a job women should be doing. He soon changed his mind though,” she says, with a steely laugh.

Along the way, she married, divorced, married again and had a son who is not, she says, going to follow her into forensic science.

From an unlikely location, a converted barn near Abingdon in Oxfordshire, Angela Gallop now runs Axiom International – global specialists in integrating forensic science, police, criminal justice and national security services. It’s a tightly run outfit, bustling with a range of experts who are drafted in and out, depending on whether the job is examining cold cases or helping the criminal justice system.

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