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Social and Ethical Aspects of Forensic Genetics: A Critical Review

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Robin Williams, Dr Matthias Wienroth



This review describes the social and ethical responses to the history of innovations in forensic genetics and their application to criminal investigations. Following an outline of the three recurrent social perspectives that have informed these responses (crime management, due process, and genetic surveillance), it goes on to introduce the repertoire of ethical considerations by describing a series of key reports that have shaped subsequent commentaries on forensic DNA profiling and databasing. Four major ethical concerns form the focus of the remainder of the paper (dignity, privacy, justice, and social solidarity), and key features of forensic genetic practice are examined in the light of these concerns. The paper concludes with a discussion of the concept of “proportionality” as a resource for balancing the social and ethical risks and benefits of the use of forensic genetics in support of criminal justice.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Williams R, Wienroth M

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Forensic Science Review

Year: 2017

Volume: 29

Issue: 2

Pages: 145-169

Print publication date: 01/07/2017

Online publication date: 01/07/2017

Acceptance date: 17/09/2016

Date deposited: 24/07/2017

ISSN (print): 1042-7201

Publisher: Central Police University Press, Taiwan