Govt scientists approve controversial DNA technique

Low-count DNA profiles can be used to secure criminal convictions
Low-count DNA profiles can be used to secure criminal convictions

A technique whereby minute amounts of genetic material can be used to create a DNA profile is "fit for purpose" for use in criminal investigations, a report has concluded.

Despite criticisms, the review said the science supporting low template DNA analysis is "sound" and has been "validated in accordance with accepted scientific principles".

It follows concerns about whether there are flaws in the technique and if it should be used in investigations.

Last year Mr Justice Weir, the trial judge in the Omagh bombing case, expressed doubt about using the low-copy DNA technique as evidence.

Today's review, carried out by Professor Brian Caddy, said however that the technique is "scientifically robust".

"DNA is a valuable tool for law enforcement and it must be used appropriately by all the agencies involved," he added.

"I have made a number of recommendations to this end. I hope that the relevant agencies take these on board and the use of this becomes standardised."

Andrew Rennison, the independent forensic science regulator, said: "We already operate in an environment where the standards in forensic science are high.

"However, there is clearly work to be done to develop a coherent standards framework that is transparent, accessible and used across all the facets of forensic science."

Mr Rennison added that he will be looking at the review in further detail and will makes his recommendations to the government "shortly".


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