Forensic dna databasing: retention regimes and efficacy

Amankwaa, Aaron (2019) Forensic dna databasing: retention regimes and efficacy. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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Three legislative regimes have governed the England and Wales National DNA Database (NDNAD). These are broadly described as restrictive (1995 – 2001), expansive (2001 – 2013) and semi-restrictive/Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (PoFA) regimes (2013 – present). The actual effectiveness of the three regimes remains abstruse. This research aimed to assess the efficacy of the different regimes to advance any reforms that may maximise the utility of the database and enhance the protection of public security and the individual’s right to privacy. The research focused on the societal and individual interest outcomes of DNA databasing. The methodology involved a document analysis of reports of oversight bodies, contributing to the establishment of the benefits, challenges and risks of the current regime. Secondly, a literature review of research into DNA databasing was conducted. Thisidentified key effectiveness indicators for the assessment of NDNAD regimes. A self-administered semi-structured questionnaire was used to assess the perception of the public about the statutory functions and ethical implications of the NDNAD. The questionnaire also asked about views on the most appropriate inclusion and retention criteria for the database. Lastly, a stakeholder survey was conducted to determine the views of experts on the efficacy of the NDNAD regimes against the effectiveness indicators.

Overall, a majority of the 201 participants who answered the public survey perceived the NDNAD to be effective in detecting, investigating and prosecuting crime. The participants were sceptical about the ability of the NDNAD to prevent crime. This suggests a reform of the statutory purpose of DNA retention to represent actual outcomes. Most participants favoured the inclusion and retention of DNA data from arrested, charged or convicted individuals. A selective regime based on offence seriousness was preferred by participants for the retention of DNA data from convicted adults. This indicates a reform of the current blanket rule which allows indefinite retention. The surveyed expert group (n = 31, mainly law enforcement officers) perceived the expansive regime to be the most effective for public security, implementation cost and efficiency reasons. The findings imply discrepancies with the current law governing the NDNAD. Whilst participants of the public survey support further restrictions to the PoFA regime, the expert group favoured the expansive regime. The survey evidence suggests a need for a statutory requirement to generate systematic data about the actual effectiveness of the NDNAD. Further, a consultation scheme should be established to account for the acceptability of the NDNAD regime among a representative sample of the public. These reforms will help improve the legitimacy of the law and ensure a balanced approach in ‘shaping’ the proportionality of the NDNAD regime.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Effectiveness, public, security, genetic, privacy, retention, legislative, NDNAD
Subjects: L200 Politics
L400 Social Policy
M900 Other in Law
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Northumbria Law School
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2020 15:24
Last Modified: 12 Aug 2022 08:30

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