The application of DNA profiling in the criminal justice system is an important issue facing Australian courts and criminal investigators today. The technology is changing rapidly and several new techniques are becoming available. Increasingly, legal advisers are required to come to grips with this kind of scientific evidence.
DNA profiling has been described as a powerful breakthrough in forensic science by many. However, the scientific validity of its application by individual laboratories has been called into question by some. The implementation of DNA profiling also raises the issue of privacy. Should it be compulsory for all suspects to allow access to body samples? How long should the information be stored? This Trends and Issues canvasses these matters and outlines our current knowledge of DNA technology. The authors raise a number of issues that limit the use of profiling in forensic investigations, and stress the importance of the establishment of national standard techniques and the establishment of population frequency databases that reflect Australia's particular ethnic composition.
The Forensic Use of DNA Profiling is a major contribution to the debate on law reform. In the interests of justice, laws in all Australian jurisdictions need to be enacted which protect an individual's privacy, but allow our investigators access to a technology which can help in excluding the innocent.