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New Guide for Role of DNA in Criminal Investigations

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Researchers from King’s are working with the European Forensic Genetics Network of Excellence (EUROFORGEN) to launch a guide, in partnership with the charity Sense about Science, to address misconceptions about DNA analysis and profiling and share exciting new developments in this area.

Making Sense of Forensic Genetics provides information on what DNA analysis can currently do in the criminal justice system, what its limitations are and what might be possible in future. It includes case studies, both where DNA evidence has been a game changer in investigations and where its misinterpretation has led to miscarriages of justice.

DNA analysis has revolutionised forensic science, helping to catch prolific murderers and exonerating innocent people wrongfully convicted of serious crimes. As DNA profiling has become increasingly sensitive and is used in more investigations, it is important that public and professional expectations come not from TV crime fiction, but from reality. The guide aims to address this challenge.

Dr Denise Syndercombe-Court, Reader in Forensic Genetics, King's College London and Euroforgen researcher, said: ‘We all enjoy a good crime drama and although we understand the difference between fiction and reality, the distinction can often be blurred by overdramatised press reports of real cases. As a result, most people have unrealistic perceptions of the meaning of scientific evidence, especially when it comes to DNA, which can lead to miscarriages of justice.

She added: ‘As we developed this guide, even readers who were professionally involved in criminal justice were surprised by some of the information it contained: this particularly showed me how important the guide is in explaining science that, though complex, really does need to be widely understood.’

The guide, Making Sense of Forensic Genetics, is available to download here.

This article has been republished from materials provided by King's College London. Note: material may have been edited for length and content. For further information, please contact the cited source.