Radical new technology changes the game for criminal investigations

Dec 11, 2021
AFP will soon utilise new technology to help identify potential offenders. Source: AFP Media/ Hightail.

Criminals should be very afraid. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) will soon have revolutionary new technology at their fingertips that can predict what a potential offender physically looks like by utilising genetic material left at the crime scene.

The new technology known as Massively Parallel Sequencing (MPS) can provide predictions for visual traits of criminals from the DNA they leave at a crime scene allowing investigators to predict gender, biogeographical ancestry, eye colour and, in coming months, hair colour.

Dr Paul Roffey, Lead Scientist behind MPS at AFP Forensics and Adjunct Professor at the University of Canberra said the possibilities for MPS technology will only increase.

“Over the next decade our team will be looking to widen prediction capabilities to include traits such as age, body mass index and height,” he said.

“We will also be seeking opportunities to provide fine detail predictions for facial metrics such as distance between the eyes, eye, nose and ear shape, lip fullness, and cheek structure.”

MPS examines greater regions of the DNA sample, providing a more informative result for investigators, over traditional DNA testing. In what sounds like technology straight out of a science fiction movie, the power of MPS technology comes from its ability to obtain leads from DNA when the perpetrator is unknown and there is no matching profile on a law enforcement DNA database. The platform also has applications in missing persons and unidentified human remains cases.

The AFP are currently testing and assessing MPS to ensure its accuracy, prior to any use in forensic investigations.

What do you think of the new technology? Step too far or crucial for investigators to help solve cases?

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