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Application of DNA Technology in England and Wales

NCJ Number
Christopher H. Asplen J.D.
Date Published
December 2003
31 pages
Through an examination of the DNA profiling program in England and Wales, this paper discusses the factors that contribute to the successful application of DNA technology in all segments of the criminal justice system.
In April 1995, England unveiled the National DNA Database (NDNAD), which propelled the country to the forefront of innovation in the use of DNA. England continues to expand the use of DNA to identify suspects, protect the innocent, and to convict guilty offenders. One factor that contributes to the success of the NDNAD is the progression of database laws in England and Wales. A series of Parliamentary Acts are reviewed that have given law enforcement the right to collect samples and profile individuals arrested for, or suspected of, involvement in a crime. As such, police powers in England and Wales allow them to take samples at far greater discretion than allowed in the United States. Funding is another factor contributing to the success of the NDNAD. The Home Office contributes approximately $5 per citizen, making it a very well funded operation. In order to fund a DNA database project in the United States at that level, the government would have to invest over $1 billion. The third factor contributing to the success of the NDNAD database is its use for volume crimes and not just for violent crimes. By opening up the database for the investigation of nonviolent crimes such as burglary, car theft, and vandalism, for example, its usefulness as a crime prevention technology increases. The short turn around time from sample collection to DNA profiling is identified as the final main factor in the system’s success. Biological samples from suspects and arrestees are typically analyzed within 5 days, while crime scene analysis results take about 24 days. Also discussed in this article is the DNA Expansion Program, which has an objective of profiling every criminally active person in the country by March 2004. Additionally, the advantages and concerns of Forensic Science Service’s “super sensitive” form of DNA analysis known as Low Copy Number (LCN) are discussed. Finally, special projects are described that utilize the NDNAD to meet their objectives. Endnotes