Shaky forensic ground in Oz

By Anna Sandiford 11/04/2010


Australia is now joining the fray regarding the adequacy of some areas of science that are applied in the legal (forensic) arena: Forensic science in the dock, State puts DNA and forensics under microscope.
Once again, the finger is being pointed at DNA, but I suspect people like to pick on DNA because it’s something we all know about and it’s a widely-applied technique.

It seems that New South Wales is particularly bothered about the use of DNA on its own to prove a case against someone (see the problems Victoria had with, for example, Farah Jama).  The UK has mitigated this problem by not bringing cases using DNA as the only evidence type.

Quite how the Australians will deal with issues remains to be seen but I suggest they will , like me, be watching what is happening in the USA as they continue to thrash things out over there.

New Zealand has been quiet on the issue so far, which is interesting for a country where forensic science forms a critical part of a lot of cases but where it isn’t reviewed by the Defence as frequently as it is in the UK, for example.  I expect that if issues are identified overseas then there will have to be a long, hard look at science in our courts.

I’ll keep you posted….