Forensic genetics

The work of the forensic geneticist will vary widely depending on the laboratory and country that they work in, and can involve the analysis of material recovered from a scene of crime, paternity testing and the identification of human remains. In some cases, it can even be used for the analysis of DNA from plants [3, 4], animals [5, 6] and microorganisms [7]. The focus of this book is the analysis of biological material that is recovered from the scene of crime - this is central to the work of most forensic laboratories. Kinship testing will be dealt with separately in Chapter 11.

Forensic laboratories will receive material that has been recovered from scenes of crime, and reference samples from both suspects and victims. The role of forensic genetics within the investigative process is to compare samples recovered from crime scenes with suspects, resulting in a report that can be presented in court or intelligence that may inform an enquiry (Figure 1.1).

Several stages are involved with the analysis of genetic evidence (Figure 1.2) and each of these is covered in detail in the following chapters.

In some organizations one person will be responsible for collecting the evidence, the biological and genetic analysis of samples, and ultimately presenting the results to a court of law. However, the trend in many larger organizations is for individuals to be

Figure 1.1 The role of the forensic geneticist is to assess whether samples recovered from a crime scene match to a suspect. Reference samples are provided from suspects and also victims of crime

responsible for only a very specific task within the process, such as the extraction of DNA from the evidential material or the analysis and interpretation of DNA profiles that have been generated by other scientists.

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