Forensic science

Ian Shaw, Julie Mennell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


DNA is probably the most well-known example of forensic science in practice. The UK has the world's largest DNA database in terms of the percentage of the population covered, over four million people, representing 6% of the UK population and covering the majority of the active criminal population. This growth was enabled as a result of the DNA expansion programme and during 2006/2007 alone, 1,175 violent/sex crimes, 852 drugs cases and 7,892 domestic burglaries were linked to one or more individuals on the National DNA Database. However, public confidence in DNA and forensic science has been tested as a result of issues surrounding the growth of the national DNA database and cases such as the Omagh Bombing and Damilola Taylor, which has prompted important ethical issues and concerns to be raised. Despite these concerns, forensic science users and providers are under increasing pressure to build on the success of the DNA expansion programme to ensure that forensic science is used effectively across all crime types. Identifying and articulating a vision for forensic science should enable the impact of forensic science to be maximised, but will also require many areas to be addressed and evaluated. This needs to be done in terms of system drivers, technological drivers and societal drivers and in the context of these there is a need to paint the possible future forensic landscape and boundaries; clearly identifying what we are trying to achieve, what the priorities are and the extent to which we would like to shape the future rather than to merely respond to it.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationClinical forensic medicine
EditorsW. D. S. McClay
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages247
ISBN (Print)978-0521705684
Publication statusPublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes


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