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New DNA database will provide 'stronger evidence' for RASSO cases

The Swab Out Crime campaign will produce an anonymous Y-STR reference database using samples from 10,000 men in the UK.

An anonymous Y chromosome database is currently being created with the aim of enhancing scientists' ability to identify criminals and eliminate innocent suspects in rape and other sexual offences.

Swab Out Crime is a joint project between the NPCC’s Forensic Capability Network (FCN), the Home Office’s Forensic Information Databases Service (FINDS) and forensic service provider Eurofins.

Investigators use Y-STR profiling to identify suspects, primarily in cases of rape or sexual offences where tiny amounts of male DNA are present among a sample which is mostly female. 

Part of this process requires the determination of how often a particular Y-chromosome profile occurs in the general population. 

The 10,000 samples collected over the next two years will be listed in a reference database used to provide a statistical estimate of this.

A reference database is not used for matching with criminals.

While Y-STR comparisons are currently undertaken using a global reference database called Y-Chromosome Haplotype Reference Database (YHRD), this data will be made stronger by using a database representative of the UK male population.

FCN’s interim managing director John Armstrong says developing this database "means we’ll have stronger evidence to convict offenders and bring justice to victims later down the line".

NPCC Police Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Paul Taylor, added: “This database is an excellent example of how policing can be an effective science-led service.

"Building confidence in criminal justice is a huge priority for us all, and any activity which enhances our ability to provide robust and reliable evidence has my full support.”

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