Optimisation of DNA profiling in sexual offences - a crossdisciplinary approach

Katie Jane Jetten, Katherine Brown, Paul Smith, Claire Rhodes

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Published in: Forensic Science International, Vol. 277, Supp. 1, pp. 1-257.

Allegations of sexual offences against women and vulnerable people continue to rise globally. Despite recent research efforts to explore and identify preventative solutions, the treatment of the victims, the investigative response and judicial outcomes frequently fall below the standards expected, consistently generating poor conviction rates. It is accepted that positive outcomes in sexual offence cases are contingent on good communication and collaborations across a multifaceted and cross-disciplinary array of experts working together. This presentation demonstrates the benefit of adopting this ethos in associated forensic science research, unifying stakeholders and optimising research to areas that best support the investigation. The focus here is on the processing and utilisation of DNA across the investigation process. The use of DNA in this regard is well established. However within forensic science, structural changes, inadequate funding and constrained resources continue to isolate key organisations and impair their capacity to generate published research and meaningful impact on frontline practice. Whilst scientific advancements continue to evolve despite these challenges, the absence of partnerships between academics, the police and forensic service providers propagates independent research projects that are highly specific and low impact, that are unsuccessfully embedded into practice and inhibit the dissemination of knowledge on a holistic platform. This lack of contingency can be demonstrated through the rapid advancement in DNA profiling technology, for which its position within sexual assault investigations is unquestioned. Whilst its application is absolute, the implementation and distribution of new technologies have not been without criticism. The introduction of DNA17 and Y-STR profiling has undoubtedly progressed investigative potential, however without the support and training to reinforce this degree of development throughout the criminal justice system, how well prepared is our structure for change? This presentation will discuss and deliberate how this isolated and independent style of research can be remodelled using a contextual design framework, a novel way of identifying and conducting meaningful research in forensic science. By utilising collaborations between academics, the police and forensic service providers, a processing continuum from the users perspective will be expanded upon, identifying fundamental variations and inefficiencies within rape investigations. It is from this design that requirement based research, dissemination of knowledge and associated outcomes will be tailored to fit and embedded into frontline practice, unifying organisations to improve communication, funding availability and forensic awareness.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017
EventIAFS 2017: 21st Triennial Meeting of the International Association of Forensic Sciences 2017 - Toronto, Canada
Duration: 21 Aug 201725 Aug 2017


ConferenceIAFS 2017: 21st Triennial Meeting of the International Association of Forensic Sciences 2017


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