Press Release

Does DNA always hold the answer?

Published on 13 May 2019

How important is DNA in court proceedings? While often cited in fiction and on screen, how reliable is an individual’s genetic code in securing a conviction or proving a person’s innocence?

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These are the questions that will be considered at the University of Dundee’s third and final Crime Café, to take place on Tuesday 14 May.

Hosted by Dr Alexander Gray, Principal Investigator at the University’s Leverhulme Research Centre for Forensic Science, and Alex Prentice QC, the duo will also discuss examples of legal importance and what current scientific research could mean for future court cases.

An informal event aimed at introducing the public to the intricacies of forensic science, Dr Gray said that the Crime Café was the perfect opportunity to dispel myths promoted in popular culture about how criminal investigations identify suspects.

“DNA evidence is not infallible,” he said.

“In books and on television DNA is often hailed as all that is necessary for a person’s guilt to be proven, but it is not as simple as that.

“The technology for detecting DNA has advanced significantly over the years, to the point where we can detect tiny amounts of many people’s DNA at one crime scene. That makes analysing the findings harder, as there are multiple contributors and it becomes more and more difficult to tell who may have been present when a crime has been committed.

“That is just one of the examples as to how the whole process of using DNA can be compromised, and there are several real-life instances where people have been accused of crimes, often in the most bizarre of circumstances, because of DNA evidence.

“I want visitors to leave the Crime Café with a better understanding of how DNA is used within the criminal justice system, and to be aware of the potential pitfalls that dependency upon such evidence can have on a criminal investigation.”

‘Does DNA always hold the answer?’ takes place in Clarks on Lindsay Street at 7pm on Tuesday 14 May. Entry is free and there is no need to book in advance.

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