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Assessment of the potential investigative value of a decentralised rapid DNA workflow for reference DNA samples

Morgan, Robert, Illidge, Steffany, Wilson-Wilde, Linzi
Forensic science international 2019 v.294 pp. 140-149
DNA, databases, forensic sciences, police, surveys, Australia
Rapid DNA technology has the ability to provide DNA analysis results in real-time. The purpose of this study was to assess the potential investigative value that could be gained by using a rapid DNA workflow in Australia, for reference DNA samples. A survey of police charging stations and DNA analysis laboratories in five Australian jurisdictions identified that a rapid DNA analysis workflow could have impacted the decision to release a person of interest from custody in 0.6% cases. This equates to approximately 480 people per year across Australia who could be held in custody because of DNA results obtained in real time. The survey also identified the extent of a sample backlog in one jurisdiction and highlighted practices in place which limited the number of reference DNA samples collected, thereby reducing the potential impact of the DNA database. It is anticipated that while the cost of rapid DNA technology remains significantly greater than current laboratory processing, the uptake of the technology in Australia will be limited. However, as costs reduce, rapid DNA instruments could potentially become a viable option for the future of forensic science in Australia.