DNA Profiling image

DNA Profiling

Innovation is at the Heart of the Midlands, including the discovery of DNA profiling!

The Discovery of DNA profiling

On 10 September 1984, Leicester University genetics researcher Alec Jeffreys wrote three words - "33 autorad off" - in his red desk diary.


Jeffreys was studying hereditary genetic links between individuals. "33 autorad off" - marked the completion of a failed experiment exploring how inherited illnesses pass through families. However, it produced the world's first DNA profile - a scientific breakthrough which has since trapped hundreds of killers, freed the innocent and revolutionised science and criminal justice.



First use of DNA Profiling in a criminal conviction was in Leicestershire too

Leicestershire police were investigating the rape and murder of two schoolgirls, Linda Mann and Dawn Ashworth, who both lived in the village of Narborough outside Leicester. Richard Buckland, a local man, had just confessed to the murder of Dawn but refused to confess to the killing of Linda. The police asked him to use DNA profiling technology to prove he killed both girls. However, the results showed that although the semen from both girls came from the same man, it wasn't Buckland's DNA. It was completely different, the tests indicated he was not the murderer.



Police then asked all local men between 17 and 34 to submit blood for DNA testing in order to eliminate them from their inquiries. By September, 4,000 had provided samples without success - until a chance remark transformed the investigation. In a pub one day a local man admitted to his mates he had provided blood on behalf of a friend, Colin Pitchfork. One friend told the police, the man and Pitchfork were arrested and the latter's DNA was shown by Jeffreys to match that of the semen from the two girls' bodies. On 23 January 1988 Pitchfork was sentenced to life for the murders of Linda Mann and Dawn Ashworth. "It was the first time on the planet that a criminal investigation had been tackled and solved at a DNA level," says Jeffreys.



DNA profiling history

1984 DNA fingerprints are discovered by Alec Jeffreys.

1987 The first DNA profile is developed, also by Jeffreys.

1988 It first became available for paternity testing

1995 The UK National Criminal Intelligence DNA Database is created and today it's both one of the longest established, and biggest of such forensic DNA databases internationally.



DNA profiling in immigration eligibility

With it's first 10 years DNA fingerprinting was used to test more than 18,000 immigrants who had been refused entry into the UK. Of these, more than 95% produced results that showed they were blood relatives of UK citizens and were therefore entitled to British citizenship.

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