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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Completed Projects

Genetic Information and Crime Investigation: Social, Ethical and Public Policy Aspects of the establishment, Expansion and Police Use of The National DNA Database

A research project of the Department of Sociology.


Since the establishment of the NDNAD on the 10th April 1995, genetic data held on this database have become increasingly central to the practice of criminal investigation in the United Kingdom. The two segments of the database comprise the 'Criminal Justice Database' (containing DNA taken from persons suspected, reported, charged, convicted, or cautioned for any recordable offence) and the 'Crime Scene Database' (containing DNA gathered from crime scenes). In March 2003 the database contained 2,099,964 criminal justice profiles and 193,138 scene of crime samples. Between April 1995 and May 2001 the FSS calculated that 354,370 'pairwise' matches, between scene stains and criminal justice samples, had been obtained using the database. Since 2001 they have identified matches using a 'scene focused' method and calculate that they have identified one or more suspects for 94,373 crime scenes.


To identify and investigate the social, ethical and public policy contexts and consequences of the establishment and rapid expansion of the 'National DNA Database' (NDNAD), held by the Forensic Science Service (FSS) on behalf of the Association of Chief Police Officers of England and Wales (ACPO), which is used to provide We are currently undertaking scientific support to the police in the investigation of crime. In particular, we have explored and compared the differing perceptions of the practical effectiveness and social and ethical implications of the use of the NDNAD held by a variety of professionals involved in the Criminal Justice System.


Documentary analysis, interviews and observations


From the Department of Sociology

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