DNA analysis

Use of DNA analysis today

Analysing DNA has been part of everyday practice in law enforcement for many years. To compile a profile, a DNA sample is required. This can come from one of two sources:

  • directly from a person (i.e. a suspect, victim or deceased person) for example by means of a buccal swab; 
  • from traces (e.g. hair, skin, blood, sperm, saliva) left behind at the scene of a crime.

DNA profiles are stored in the national CODIS database. A DNA sample taken from the scene of a crime can be compared with profiles already in the database. If the comparison yields a match, or a ‘hit’, this can mean:

  • a match has been found between a sample from a crime scene and a sample in the database from an unidentified person (sample-sample match); 
  • a match has been found between a sample from a crime scene and a sample in the database that can be attributed to a specific person (sample-person match). The police can then question that person to find out what role they play in the case under investigation.

A DNA profile may only be compiled as part of a criminal investigation or to identify missing or deceased persons. Moreover, it requires authorisation by a public prosecution service or a court.

A DNA profile may only be used to determine the gender of a person. This is the only outward feature law enforcement is permitted to extract from a profile.

Legal basis

Last modification 05.09.2019

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