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Durham University

Policy, Professions and Communities Research Group


Publication details for Professor Robin Williams

Williams, R. , Johnson. P & Martin, P. (2004). Genetic Information and Crime Investigation. Social, ethical and public policy aspects of the establishment, expansion and police use of the National DNA Database. School of Applied Social Sciences. Durham, Durham University, School of Applied Social Sciences.

Author(s) from Durham


The recent incorporation of forensic DNA identification technology into the criminal justice systems of a growing number of countries has been fast and far reaching. In developing and using DNA profiling for forensic purposes many criminal jurisdictions across the world have followed a common trajectory: from its case-by-case use to support the investigation and prosecution of a small number of homicides and sexual assaults, to the recovery of biological samples and the comparison of DNA profiles as an extensive and routine practice in the investigation of a wide range of crimes including property and auto crime.
Essential to this development has been the introduction and expansion of DNA databases or 'registers' which contain collections of genetic profiles derived from biological samples lawfully collected from widening categories of individuals. The National DNA Database (NDNAD) of England & Wales is one such database. This report provides an account of the NDNAD and its uses that we hope will stimulate discussion and debate among and across a range of stakeholders – including forensic scientists, crime scene personnel, police officers, policy makers, and members of the legal profession – who contribute to making the NDNAD ‘work’ and among other interested parties – including human rights groups, academics, and bio-ethicists – who respond to, and sometimes influence, understandings and applications of this forensic instrument. But we also hope to promote, in supplying a comprehensive overview of the historical development, current use, and potential changes in DNA profiling and databasing in England & Wales, an understanding of the NDNAD beyond those with a ‘hands on’
interest in its use.