How far have we come with trace DNA since 2004? The Australian and New Zealand experience

John Rowe
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australian Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2011, 43 (4), pp. 231 - 244
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In 2004, a survey was sent to forensic organisations in every jurisdiction in Australia and New Zealand, benchmarking practices in relation to trace DNA analysis. Concerning issues were identified such as a lack of standard training protocols, little ongoing training or proficiency testing, and poor information gathering and sharing. To assess the changes occurring in the five years since this survey, a follow-up was devised and distributed to the same organisations in early 2009. Seventy-seven surveys were received from persons active in the field of trace DNA including crime scene and laboratory personnel, and managers. The major difference noted between the two surveys was the implementation of new technologies, primarily robotic automation and subsequent changes in extraction methodology. Disappointingly, training, research and proficiency test levels were still found to be lacking, a concern given the findings of recent international forensic reviews. A major deficiency still noted from the 2004 survey was the absence of effective data management systems, indicating that the wider intelligence-led application of this evidence is not fully utilised. Reviewing the methods and processes of the dissemination of forensic data in the policing environment has the potential to broaden its application to crime prevention strategies
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