Trace DNA: an underutilised resource or Pandora's Box? A review of the use of trace DNA analysis in the investigation of volume crime

Publisher:
International Association for Identification
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
Journal of Forensic Identification, 2004, 54 (6), pp. 668 - 686
Issue Date:
2004-01
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Spectacular advanctes in DNA technology have greatly expanded its applicability to forensic science. As the processes become sufficiently sensitive to detect trace DNA, a vast number of crime scene samples not previously considered for analysis are now able to be tested. However, in spite of these obvious benefits, trace DNA analysis raises problems not often considered by investigators and forensic scientists. This paper discusses the history and development of trace DNA analysis. It suggests a trend of underutilisation and discusses issues surrounding its application and alternative uses for the results gained. The approach in the past has been that DNA evidence was solely employed as an absolute form of evidence and consequently, research focused primarily on increasing sensitivity and discrimination power. We are suggesting that DNA evidence should be treated as any other trace evidence. Research to provide data for basic trace evidence properties of deposit, presence, transfer and persisitence may allow trace DNA analysis to be more effectivly utilised in the investigation of crime. Together with recent developments in forensic intelligence, this research could facilitate the progressive applications of trace DNA analysis to volume crime investigations, an outcome wuth the potential to reduce the rate of volume crime and contribute to crime prevention strategies.
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