Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dodgy DNA analysis

According to the Melbourne Age this morning, Victoria Police are experiencing problems with DNA analysis and have been forced to put several cases on hold and review others that may be affected.

The flaw in the system involves the interpretation of results provided from new-generation DNA equipment that is more sophisticated than previous technology.

Mr Overland said the machine, which has been operating since September, was accurate but the problem was with the statistical analysis of the results.

''Our statistical model has not kept pace with the new technology,'' he said. ''The science has outstripped the model.

''It is my view that the interest of justice is best served by us taking this course of action. It is my belief and hope that we will have this issue resolved before courts resume in late January.''

The Age last month revealed that the Director of Public Prosecutions had ordered a review of cases involving low-level DNA because of doubts over the system. The move followed the collapse of an armed robbery case in the County Court against two suspects after a police expert admitted DNA analysis could be unreliable.

My interest was initially piqued because there seems to be a view, one expressed during the passage of NZ legislation to allow DNA sampling from non-convicted suspects, that DNA science is infallible.

But here is the really interesting part of the story;

Victoria Police is the only Australian law enforcement agency using the new technology, but police in New Zealand have successfully introduced the sensitive equipment without similar problems.

So, why? Why aren't the NZ Police having similar problems? How would we know if they were?

1 comment:

Chuck Bird said...

You should goggle "Farah Jama" in Oz.
There must be other good evidence besides DNA. The can be contamination or outright planting of evidence.

I very much doubt Scott Watson would have been convicted on the shabby evidence in the prosecution case if it was not for DNA evidence.