British police line up DNA technology to fight crime

REVOLUTIONARY DNA technology, which could catch thousands more criminals every year, is finally set to be cleared for use by police in Britain.

DNAboost, which allows scientists to unravel mixed and previously unusable genetic samples, was hailed for its crime-fighting potential by former prime minister Tony Blair in 2006.

Experts believe the software will identify up to 6,000 extra suspects annually, and could also help in cases such as that of missing Madeleine McCann — where forensic evidence appears to have been difficult to analyse.

A source close to the project said DNAboost was the “most validated DNA technology in history”.

“This is the biggest step forward in crime-fighting science for more than a decade, and it has taken far too long to get clearance,” the source said.

Despite impressive results from pilot schemes in Yorkshire, Humberside and Northumbria, police have been banned from using the tool for more than 12 months.

The long delay led detectives and scientists to complain the technology was falling victim to a “turf war” over the National DNA Database.

The Forensic Science Service — which developed DNAboost — was stripped of control over the bank of 3.5 million samples in December 2005, when it was made an independent Government-backed company.

A Home Office strategy board including representatives from the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Police Authorities decides how the database can be used.

A spokeswoman for the department confirmed yesterday that the strategy board had delivered its recommendation, and the matter had been passed to the Attorney General for final sign-off.

“The Forensic Science Regulator was asked to undertake a scientific review of the Forensic Science Service’s DNAboost product,” the spokeswoman said.

“This was completed last year and the Acpo-chaired National DNA Database Strategy Board then considered the issue in the light of the report.

“The resulting recommendation is currently before the Attorney General. A decision is expected imminently.”

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