Social and Ethical Aspects of Forensic Genetics: A Critical Review

Robin Williams, Matthias Wienroth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


This review describes the social and ethical responses to the history of innovations in forensic genetics and their application to criminal investigations. Following an outline of the three recurrent social perspectives that have informed these responses (crime management, due process, and genetic surveillance), it goes on to introduce the repertoire of ethical considerations by describing a series of key reports that have shaped subsequent commentaries on forensic DNA profiling and databasing. Four major ethical concerns form the focus of the remainder of the paper (dignity, privacy, justice, and social solidarity), and key features of forensic genetic practice are examined in the light of these concerns. The paper concludes with a discussion of the concept of “proportionality” as a resource for balancing the social and ethical risks and benefits of the use of forensic genetics in support of criminal justice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-169
JournalForensic Science Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017


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