Accepted Paper:

Forensic DNA retention: public perspective studies in the United Kingdom and around the world  


Aaron Amankwaa (Northumbria University)

Paper short abstract:

This review sought to survey primary studies on forensic DNA retention carried out in the UK and other jurisdictions. The goal of the review was to establish the existing knowledge about public perspectives on DNA retention, identify research gaps and provide recommendations for further research.

Paper long abstract:

This review analysed public perspective studies on forensic DNA retention in the United Kingdom and around the world. The studies generally show strong public support for the long-term or indefinite retention of DNA from convicts and suspects. There is considerable support for the retention of DNA from all or some arrestees and potentially the entire population. This was most likely predicated upon the belief that forensic DNA databases have crime-solving abilities. In the UK, it was found that the current Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 regime is broadly representative of the recommendations of the surveyed British public. Nevertheless, the studies highlighted a gap in forensic DNA education among the public, suggesting that public views may not be well informed. Overall, there was clear evidence of concerns about privacy and the misuse of DNA records, with a significant number opposing the retention of DNA from the innocent. Most of the studies were qualitative or non-representative of the relevant population, thus limiting the generalisation of the results. There were also limited studies among a representative sample of stakeholders directly involved in the operation of the database. A research into the views of primary stakeholders is therefore highly recommended. This is important because the studies suggest divergent views among criminal justice professionals and other members of the public, with the former expressing expansive views and the latter restrictive views. The stakeholders' survey will help establish whether the relevant safeguards have been put in place to protect both public security and individual interests.

Panel C01
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