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Police Research and Education Network Seminar: Maximising Forensic DNA Utility: Local, Regional and Global Challenges

Northumbria University


Maximising Forensic DNA Utility: Local, Regional and Global Challenges.

Dr Carole McCartney, School of Law, Northumbria University 

Since the emergence of forensic DNA profiling and the corollary creation of DNA databases, efforts to maximise the efficiency and utility of DNA technology have intensified. Developments on a local, regional and global scale may challenge ‘accepted’ use of DNA, yet such efforts are expedient given the imperative that expenditure on DNA should be cost-effective and the benefits demonstrable. To this end, regimes governing forensic DNA have often been adjusted to better target those from whom DNA will prove most ‘profitable’, and to expand the uses of retained DNA. Yet the European Court of Human Rights in 2008 clearly articulated the need for a ‘balance’ between police powers to retain the DNA of citizens, and privacy concerns, human rights and public interest.

The Court left unsaid what this balance should be, leaving such calibrations to domestic legislators. The Court was likewise silent on whether there ought to be limitations on the uses of retained DNA.

In delivering a unanimous but terse ruling, the Court left States wide discretion, and while scientific and technological advances continue to attract the eye of ethicists and sociologists, (particularly around developments such as phenotyping and familial searching), the governance and legal regimes of DNA databases garner far less critical attention. In some instances, a ‘balance’ originally struck may have been destabilised by subsequent legal reforms, or changes in practice, and regimes are in need of re-calibration. Thus forensic DNA databases continue to raise questions of legitimacy and acceptability, particularly when accounting for ongoing efforts to maximise DNA efficiency and utility.

Refreshments will be available in the Corporate Hub (Fourth Floor) at 5.00pm - 5.30pm and the lecture will take place at 5.30pm in Lecture Theatre 402.

To book a place on this seminar, please complete the booking form below or email


The series will draw upon leading research expertise within Northumbria University. Each seminar will provide an opportunity for staff to present their research findings on key topics for contemporary policing, reflecting on the challenge of developing evidence based for police practice.

The seminars are free to attend. They will be informal and are designed to promote debate between academics and practitioners from the police and other relevant agencies.

For information on future seminars click here.

* At Northumbria we are strongly committed to protecting the privacy of personal data. To view the University’s Privacy Notice please click here

Event Details

Northumbria University
Business and Law Building, City Campus East
Corporate Hub and Lecture Theatre 402
Newcastle upon Tyne


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