The effectiveness of the current use of forensic DNA in criminal investigations in England and Wales

Aaron Amankwaa, Carole McCartney*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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In this article, we consider the effectiveness of DNA analysis in criminal investigations. Through this investigative tool, unknown victims, suspects, and serial offenders have been identified. At the same time, wrongly charged and convicted individuals have been eliminated from investigations or released from custody following DNA testing. We know forensic DNA analysis is powerful in individual cases/certain crime types, but its aggregate contribution to criminal detections is low and questioned. There is little evidence to demonstrate its actual contribution. We examined the possible reasons for the low impact of forensic DNA, with some recommendations that may further maximize its utility. Available evidence demonstrates that there remains a need to ensure value for money in continued investment in forensic DNA analysis. An evaluation of trends in criminal activities and detection opportunities utilizing DNA evidence may help in identifying specific areas where DNA is most useful, and resources can be focused. Additionally, the potential of integrated multi‐biometric analysis/systems and other evidence types should be explored. This article is categorized under: Forensic Biology > DNA Databases and Biometrics Forensic Biology > Forensic DNA Technologies Jurisprudence and Regulatory Oversight > Expert Evidence and Narrative
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1414
Number of pages9
JournalWIREs Forensic Science
Issue number6
Early online date24 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


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