Suspects, victims and others: producing and sharing forensic genetic knowledge

Robin Williams, Matthias Wienroth

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

5 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter examines several related non-medical contexts in which genotyping is carried out and where questions arise over who has the right to commission, deploy and share with whom the results of that genotyping. There are three such contexts on which we focus attention. The first – and dominant one – is the application of genetic technologies to biological material recovered from crime scenes, from the victims of crime, from criminal suspects and from others for ‘elimination purposes’ in the course of criminal inquiries. The second is when genetic analysis is carried out on bodies recovered at ‘mass disasters’ in an effort to identify the dead. The third is the sampling and profiling of individuals involved in paternity and maternity disputes, or in other circumstance where it is deemed necessary to prove close genetic affiliation. We refer to all three of them as ‘forensic’ on the grounds that the primary purpose of each is to support legal process of various kinds, including the deliberations of civil, coronial, local, national and international criminal courts. Each genotyping knowledge context raises slightly different issues because of variations in the identities of the persons from whom samples are taken, the nature of the genetic information produced by preferred technologies, the primary purposes which its production serves and varying expectations of how much of this information should be shared with whom and under what circumstances.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Right to Know and the Right not to Know: Genetic Privacy and Responsibility
EditorsRuth Chadwick, Mairi Levitt, Darren Shickle
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
ISBN (Print)978-1107429796
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014

Publication series

NameCambridge Bioethics and Law
PublisherCambridge University Press


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