Within four hours DNA info with mobile DNA equipment? ‘It is possible’
Mobile DNA equipment can provide a quick solution to crimes. This is apparent from a recent trial with the so-called Forensic Identification Vehicle, or FiV for short, in which the mobile equipment is placed.
The equipment can be used to quickly start DNA testing for traces that have been secured at a crime scene. There has been plenty of experimentation with mobile equipment in the past six months. ‘Immediately after a crime there is often more evidence available. So if there is soon clarity about those traces, detectives will sooner know in which corner to look. The results are interesting’, says project leader Rob van der Veer about the LocalDNA testing ground.
Forensic colleagues can carry out an initial DNA test in the FiV bus, which was driven to the forensic investigation in the living lab. The raw data is sent via a secure line to the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI). Van der Veer: ‘That is where the analysis of the data and interpretation of the DNA data starts immediately. The NFI compares the obtained DNA profiles with other DNA profiles in the case or in the DNA database for criminal cases. The process from PD to DNA result can be carried out within four to five hours. This saves us considerable time. That way, detectives get an explanation of their case much faster.’
Mobile DNA equipment was used during the trial in ongoing criminal investigations. This required a change in the law. Because these investigations have not yet been completed, Van der Veer cannot provide further details. “But it seems that this approach could work in a small number of cases. The chance of being caught increases in these cases, which can also increase the feeling of security among citizens.’
The test yielded a number of insights. One of the most appealing is therefore time savings due to a fast DNA procedure. ‘As a result, offenders can be arrested more quickly and serial offenses can be broken through more quickly. The lead time will be reduced from a few weeks or months to an average of one or two days,’ says Van der Veer.
In common crimes in particular, similarities are found between DNA profiles and profiles in the DNA database, because the repeat offenders are often already in the DNA database.
The current technique now only works for large blood and saliva traces. Van der Veer: ‘The equipment needs to be further developed so that it can also be used for smaller amounts of biological material.’ Optimal use of this technology requires an amendment to the current legislation. In any case, the results call for a follow-up study, according to the project leader.