Kenniscentrum Techniek

Rapid DNA Technologies at the Crime Scene

'CSI' Fiction Matching Reality


Rapid DNA analysis has been standard procedure for years in the well-known series ‘CSI’ to identify perpetrators within hours. Although this series is clearly fiction, it is possible that ‘CSI’ predicts the future forensic investigation process. This thesis describes how a mobile Rapid DNA analysis device can be used to act as a potential effective tool in modern day law enforcement. In 2010 the FBI established a Program Rapid DNA analysis for the introduction of rapid and mobile DNA technologies for use by law enforcement (1). As it can be expected that mobile DNA technologies will cause a paradigm shift in the role of forensic institutes and the tasks of professionals in the Criminal Justice System (CJS) we have investigated how mobile Rapid DNA technologies can be used efficiently and successfully in the CJS in the Netherlands. Key figures on the contribution of DNA to the identification of suspects and on the actual success rate of the DNA profiling process in analysing biological traces form a wide range of items illustrate the potential benefit of implementing mobile and Rapid DNA technologies in the Dutch CJS. We show how the possibility to deploy Rapid DNA analysis at the crime scene affects the decision-making processes of Scene of Crime Officers (SoCOs) regarding the selection of biological traces for subsequent DNA analysis. For that reason, we developed a decision model for the use of mobile Rapid DNA technologies by SoCOs. We also point out the need to establish a legal environment conducive to the harmonious introduction of mobile Rapid DNA technologies at the crime scene.

DNA analysis for forensic purposes became important more than three decades ago when Sir Alec Jeffreys discovered individual specific DNA patterns leading to the wellknown forensic DNA fingerprint (2, 3). The use of DNA analysis for intelligence purposes and as scientific evidence in criminal cases has grown tremendously ever since. A lot of research effort has been devoted to exploring the full potential of DNA technology to identify perpetrators, solve crimes, protect the innocent and to identify missing persons (4). Part of this research has concentrated on the analysis of samples containing low levels of DNA. This technology enables the forensic community to obtain informative DNA typing data from a broad spectrum of crime scene samples

Reference Mapes, A. (2017). Rapid DNA Technologies at the Crime Scene: 'CSI' Fiction Matching Reality. [Research HvA, graduation external, Universiteit van Amsterdam]. IBED UvA.
Published by  Kenniscentrum Techniek 1 January 2017

Publication date

Jan 2017


Anna Mapes
A.D. Kloosterman


Research database