The use of DNA in Society
Since the discovery of DNA it has been a concept which has revolutionised much of society as we see it today. For example medical areas such as paternity testing and genetics have improved markedly since the notion of DNA has been introduced. In relation to a paternity test now all is required is a small swab of the inside of a potential fathers cheek with the DNA gained able to be compared against that of the child.
The use of DNA in the Criminal Justice System
DNA has also revolutionised the field of criminology and made a huge impact in the functioning of the Criminal Justice System in a much improved manner.
What are the advantages of using DNA in the Criminal Justice System?
The main advantages of the use of DNA in the Criminal Justice System can be broken down into the following three categories:
The use of DNA to solve crimes
Identifying victims of crime
Linking two crimes
The use of DNA to solve crimes
Since the advent of DNA profiling, DNA has been used as evidence and has become an extremely powerful tool in the arena of the criminal law. Often the DNA of an individual may be found on the body of their victim or at the scene of the crime and can be adequately used to pinpoint that individual as the perpetrator.
Evidence that is resistant to tampering
Due to the fact that an individual’s DNA is the same in all areas of their body it cannot be altered or changed in any way meaning that it is effectively a form of evidence which is resistant to any form of tampering.
DNA is different between all individuals
No DNA is the same between two individual people – unless those individuals are identical twins – this means that the evidence can be relied upon as an accurate way to direct or to conclude criminal cases. Most often the use of DNA at a crime scene will enable investigators to move the case in the right direction and to remove potential suspects from the investigation. This will then enable the police to concentrate their manpower directly on the case rather than wasting time interviewing potential suspects – for this reason alone the use of DNA has a huge advantage in criminal cases.
Identifying Victims of Crime
Another important function of DNA in criminal cases is that it enables the victims of crime to be identified. In some cases where the condition of the body when discovered has left the victim unidentifiable hair and many other parts of the body can provide viable DNA evidence which can be analysed and profiled to identify the victim of the crime.
Linking Two Crimes
If the same DNA is found at two different crime scenes then it can be used to link together the crimes enabling criminal investigators to determine if a serial criminal is at large or even to establish if the victims knew one another.
The National DNA Database
What is the National DNA Database?
DNA samples which have been obtained for analysis from the collection of DNA at crime scenes and from samples taken from individuals in police custody can be held in a national database called the National DNA Database.
The UK National DNA Database
The UK’s National DNA Database is the largest database of any country with 5.2% of the UK population being on the database. Over the last five years there has been a continued expansion of the DNA database with currently over 3.4 million DNA profiles being held on the database – this accounts for the majority of the population of known active offenders.
DNA Database Top Government Priority
Maintaining and developing the DNA Database is one of the UK Government’s top priorities.
For more information on:
- Are there any plans to create a voluntary database?
- What will be the process when the police find a DNA match from the database?
- What happens once the charges are brought?