DNA test will capture offenders' face
SCIENTISTS are on the verge of discovering the ultimate crime-fighting
weapon - a DNA test capable of generating a detailed "photofit" of a
suspect from a mere strand of hair or drop of blood at a crime scene.
The ground-breaking technique, being developed at the Forensic Science
Service in England, already enables prediction of physical
characteristics of an offender including sex, ethnic origin and hair
But West Midlands Police announced yesterday that the latest research,
due to be released in the next three months, could also yield other
clues such as eye colour and other facial features.
The expected advances were heralded as a potential revolution in
crime-fighting by Scottish police forces, enabling more focused
investigations and faster results.
Detective Inspector Richard Leary, one of a team of ten working on the
technique with forensic scientists in Birmingham, said: "What we have
so far is a massive breakthrough in DNA research.
"This technique will give police vital information about the person
responsible for the crime from the genetic fingerprint which they
leave behind at the scene of the crime. The future of investigation,
and particularly identification, is very exciting indeed," he said,
adding that the chance of two people sharing the same DNA profile was
about 200 million to one.
DNA testing has already changed the face of crime-fighting beyond
recognition since the days when conventional fingerprints provided the
main clue at a crime scene.
In 1995, the Government established the first national DNA database to
store records and a Scottish branch opened in Dundee in 1996.
By unravelling the complex DNA "ladder" from material such as blood,
saliva and hair using an electric current, scientists have already
learned to predict sex, ethnic origin and hair colour by scrutinising
the patterns the DNA strands leave on a nylon membrane.
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