Information on Consortium publications

Welcome to the project dissemination site! Here you can find most recent Consortium publications authored by EUROFORGEN project partners:

‘A Guide to Legal and Ethical Principles and Practices in Forensic Genetics’

Dr Denise Syndercombe Court, Kristiina Reed, Prof Robin Williams and Dr Matthias Wienroth

Since their first appearance in the 1980’s, forensic DNA profiling technologies have become an increasingly important aspect of criminal, security, and mass disaster investigations.  This has been made possible by a combination of technical, organizational and legislative developments which include improvements in DNA extraction and analysis processes, the establishment of national and international laboratory standards, judicial acceptance of the robustness of DNA evidence, and the growth of national forensic DNA databases as a means of storing, searching and comparing crime scene DNA profiles with profiles obtained from known individuals and retained under a variety of legal regimes. This EUROFORGEN deliverable exemplifies the view of the Consortium that deliberation of the social, legal and ethical correlates and consequences of developments in forensic genetics deserves full and early consideration alongside the enthusiastic embrace of technological innovations themselves. The document provides a guide to navigating through such promises and problems as they appear in recent developments in forensic genetics.

The guide can be found here.

‘A comparative audit of legislative frameworks within the European Union for the collection, retention and use of forensic DNA profiles’

Kristiina Reed and Dr Denise Syndercombe Court

The audit of legislative frameworks within the European Union for the collection, retention and use of forensic DNA profiles has been prepared as a deliverable of work package 4 of the European Forensic Genetics Network of Excellence. Since the introduction of the first national DNA database in the UK in 1995, almost all European countries have begun to establish similar databases on the background of the respective national legal system. The currently available surveys comparing the legislative frameworks for DNA analysis and national databases are outdated, since a number of countries have started to amend and revise existing laws – in most cases to facilitate the use of DNA data and the database storage of DNA profiles from suspects and convicted offenders – in the light of success of this methodology in criminal investigations.

The audit can be found here.

‘Public perspectives on established and emerging forensic genetics technologies in Europe’

Prof Robin Williams and Dr Matthias Wienroth, Northumbria University Centre for Forensic Science

Science and technology lie at the heart of government; the science of government and the governance of science comprise mutual and recursive influences. Appreciation of the social character and context of science is necessary for an adequate understanding of why particular lines of scientific research may be strongly developed and others not, as well as the reasons for the successful take-up of some, but not all, technologies whose supporters promise that their introduction will support a range of desired economic, political and social ends. This preliminary report provides insights into some discussions around public perspectives on forensic genetic technologies, as well as an introduction to the diverse range of organized public actors interested in forensic genetics. Through this report we hope to invite forensic geneticists and researchers to engage with public perspectives as any insight we are able to provide may help them inform their own research, and also enable them to provide a balanced account of the significance of their work on forensic genetic technologies, how the uses of such technologies by police and other criminal justice agencies are compatible with expectations of civil liberties and human rights, and how they may support the social values of justice and security. As such, engaging with public perspectives on technoscience is a useful aspect of anticipatory science and technology governance.

The report can be found here.

'Ethical, Social and Policy Aspects of Forensic Genetics: A Systematic Review'

Prof Robin Williams and Dr Matthias Wienroth, Northumbria University Centre for Forensic Science

The EUROFORGEN Network of Excellence has brought together some of the leading individuals and groups in European forensic genetic research in order to extend existing collaborations as well as improve knowledge of innovations in this field of research and operation amongst potential users, policy makers and the general public. This systematic review contributes to one of the Network’s goals - to map the landscape of recent and contemporary social, legal and ethical debates about forensic genetics in Europe and beyond. The review describes the history of forensic genetics, and situates current research in this field within the broader research and innovation agenda of the European Union. It documents the three waves of recent social and ethical commentaries on the criminal justice uses of developments in forensic genetic research and pays particular attention to the variety of standpoints – both affirmative and critical – that can be found in these commentaries.

Please find the systematic review for download here.

A state-of-the-art description of handling biological evidence from crime scene to court room

Since its first description in 1985, DNA profiling has had an enormous impact on the safety of citizens and the security of society by providing powerful tools to link criminal offenders to crime scenes. Highly informative and robust DNA typing systems have been developed which are extremely efficient for the individualization of biological material of human origin and a large effort has been dedicated to standardization of these systems. Up to now, research efforts on evidence handling, on forensic molecular genetics, as well as on data interpretation and presentation in the court room are not carried out within an integrated framework, since they fall into different disciplines of academic and applied research, and cover a wide array of subjects ranging from technology and engineering to physics, chemistry, biology, mathematical statistics, and law. The goal of the present document is to describe briefly the whole process from handling biological evidence from crime scene to court room, to identify the main challenges, from different perspectives, and to determine crucial targets to be considered in order to improve the current situation of forensic genetics in Europe. 

Please find the document for download here.

Directory of Forensic Genetic Research Laboratories in Europe

The Network initiative to distribute a detailed questionnaire to all forensic genetic laboratories across Europe has resulted in the publication of the Directory of Forensic Genetic Research Laboratories in Europe.

The questionnaire was designed to explore the activities and needs of the European forensic genetic laboratories. For the report from March 2013, 146 questionnaires from 31 different countries were analyzed. Furthermore, a total of 179 laboratories across Europe were identified as active in the field, and have accepted to contribute to the activities of EUROFORGEN-NoE. Significant information was derived concerning the number and type of labs in the different European countries, the level of standardization, the educational needs, the research activities and the challenges in the field.

You will find further information on all participating laboratories on our website.

White Book on Education and Training in Forensic Genetics

In the context of Work Package 5, a questionnaire was sent to 25 National Contact Persons (NCPs) representing 28 European countries. These data have been compiled into a the White Book on the Current Status of Education and Training in Forensic Genetics in March 2013.

Please visit the interactive training section of the website: You will find an interactive and searchable list of training courses at universities, private institutions, and from professional societies here.