DNA profiling has become a routine source of key evidence in criminal investigations. The work of the DNA department is to analyse samples taken from those who have been arrested, as well as the analysis of samples submitted directly from scenes of crime and the Biology Team’s work. The department is also responsible for the management of the local Northern Ireland DNA database.


Samples are analysed using modern, technologically advanced recovery, purification, amplification, separation and detection techniques. FSNI was the first DNA lab in the UK to operate using DNA17, an extremely sensitive analysis process that even allows for profiles to be extracted even from very poor quality DNA samples. DNA17 is superior to previous methods as it analyses 16 DNA short tandem repeat loci (6 more than previous kits) and a gender identifier meaning that the power to match or eliminate a suspect is greater than ever before.


The ability to translate biological DNA profiles into a simple digital format allows for the rapid matching of profiles on large databases. Crime profiles can thus be matched against each other (to link to separate crime scenes) and against subject profiles to link putative offenders to crime scenes. FSNI routinely loads profiles to the Northern Ireland DNA Database, and where appropriate also to the Forensic Information Databases Services (FINDS), managed by the Home Office.

Whilst the probabilities of profile matches can be accurately quantified mathematically, the interpretation of the significance of the match in the context of the case requires skilled evaluation by FSNI Reporting Officers.

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