New technology will now enable the Australian Federal Police to build criminal profiles with DNA obtained from crime scenes.
The Massively Parallel Sequencing (MPS) tool will allow forensic police to predict the gender, eye colour, hair colour, and biogeographical ancestry of criminals. This futuristic technology is set to revolutionise crime scene investigations. The purpose of the MPS tool is to narrow down suspects in a case. Instead of having hundreds of potential suspects, through biodata denomination, police can target particular individuals whose DNA profiles match evidence found at a crime scene. Scientists and engineers working on this project predict that the MPS tool in the future will also be able to identify people’s body mass index, height, age, fingerprint patterns, facial features, such as distance between eyes, ear shape, lip fullness, and cheek structure.
Additionally, the Australian Federal Police is collaborating with Geoscience Australia to utilise the MPS tool for environmental DNA. This could be used in the form of dust, soil, water, and drug profiling, and add another layer to crime scene investigation.
This new technology has already been flagged with some drawbacks, primarily in the form of accuracy. The MPS tool has not yet been field-tested but the most important factor on scientists’ minds is how accurate the tool is. Scientists and engineers working on MPS claim that they have been able to get the age of a suspect within plus or minus four years. Unfortunately, the nuances of DNA profiling will mean that the margin of error must be extremely low. If police become too reliant on this tool it may lead to incorrect predictions and unravel a slew of legal ramifications.
The Australian Federal Police is continuing its internal testing using MPS before release in the next few years. This forensic analysis via DNA technology will be a first for Australian law enforcement.