Northumbria University Centre for Forensic Science

Year: 2006

DNA fingerprinting and the right to inviolability of the body and bodily integrity in the Netherlands: convincing evidence and proliferating body parts

V. Toom. Genomics, Society & Policy, 2(3), pp. 64-74. (2006).


The paper uses insights from the so-called rape in disguise case study to describe forensic DNA practices in the Netherlands in late 1980s. It describes how reliabilities of forensic DNA practices were achieved. One such reliability convincing evidence proliferates body parts through time and space. Then, attention shifts to the individual who was suspected of having committed the rape. He was asked to deliver tissue for DNA typing, but refused to do so. Hence DNA typing could not be used to connect the suspect to a cervical smear collected from the body of the victim. His refusal and the legal impossibility to use force to obtain his biological material led first to questions in the Dutch parliament and then to the Dutch forensic DNA law. Other legal measures enacted after this are also described. I argue that, by means of the various Dutch forensic DNA laws and new forensic genetic techniques, the application of forensic DNA practices have shifted from identification and evidence to a tool for criminal investigation and prevention of future crimes. In the final part of the paper, the right to inviolability of the body and its synonym bodily integrity are emphasised. I argue that despite the various forensic DNA laws, bodily integrity of obtained tissue for DNA typing is still at stake as the result of convincing evidence.

Tags: , Victor Toom

How long does it take a static speaking individual to contaminate their immediate environment?

N.J. Port, V.L. Bowyer, E.M.A. Graham, M.S. Batuwangala & G.N. Rutty. Forensic Science Medicine & Pathology, 2(3), pp. 157-164. (2006).


Developments in forensic genetic profiling mean that only a very little DNA is required to generate an identifying profile. However, as this sensitivity increases so does the risk of contamination with non-offender DNA, potentially leading to the conviction of innocents, or release of the guilty. The work of Rutty et al. showed that a static and talking person deposited DNA in front of them within a 15-minute period. This work expands on that of Rutty et al. by determining the time period required for an individual to deposit sufficient DNA for a positive identification to be made, and the distance that this contamination can be detected from the speaking individual. To simulate a scene of crime, sheets of BenchkoteĀ® were used to represent an area of interest and an unprotected subject talked over them for a variety of times, in a variety of positions (standing, kneeling, and sitting at a desk). Results show that contamination by talking in both kneeling and sitting positions occurred almost immediately (<30 seconds, but not from just one sentence) up to 69 cm from the subject. When standing, contamination could be observed up to a maximum 115 cm from the subject, and was only present in one of three repeats when talking for only 30 seconds. This article illustrates how rapidly a static person can potentially contaminate an area in front of him or herself within a laboratory or scene environment, just by talking.

Tags: , Eleanor Graham

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