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DNA Expansion Programme and Criminal Investigation

NCJ Number
British Journal of Criminology Volume: 46 Issue: 2 Dated: March 2006 Pages: 175-192
Carole McCartney
Date Published
March 2006
18 pages
This article critically examines the reliance on DNA analysis for criminal investigation.
The author recommends the training and proper utilization of crime scene examiners to protect the quality of forensic evidence and advises that criminal investigation teams continue to focus on traditional methods of investigation. While DNA profiling has been portrayed as a scientifically sound and conclusive method of criminal investigation, the author points out that DNA analysis is open to the possibility of mistake and misinterpretation. The author argues that the expansion of the National DNA Database in the United Kingdom has not resulted in improved detection rates and legislative extensions of police powers to obtain and retain DNA samples have brought up questions regarding individual rights and police ethics. Concerns have been raised over the tactical use of DNA evidence during suspect interviews and over the potential of officers developing “tunnel vision” during the course of criminal investigations due to the presumed superiority of DNA evidence over other types of evidence. The author does acknowledge the power of forensic identification technologies to aid in the detection of criminals but points out that even DNA analysis is fallible and cautions police officers to avoid an over-reliance on DNA evidence to the exclusion of other avenues of investigative inquiry. In closing the author notes that the future expansion of DNA analyses for criminal justice uses must take place within a political and public culture that recognizes the abilities and limitations of science. Footnotes, references