DNA Databases as Alternative Data Sources for Criminological Research

  • Sabine De MoorEmail author
  • Tom Vander Beken
  • Stijn Van Daele


DNA traces found at crime scenes and DNA records held in databases have already helped the police to solve numerous investigations into specific crimes. The police clearly benefit from the use of forensic science at an operational (i.e. case) level. This paper focuses on the use of forensic DNA at a strategic level: its use in the study of patterns of criminal behaviour. The usual sources of information for this type of research are recorded crime data, self-report studies and victimization surveys. However, as our review will show, these data sources cannot provide a complete picture of crime. We therefore propose an alternative approach to criminological research that takes into account DNA databases and has the potential to augment current methods and extend the existing knowledge beyond known offenders. The use of DNA databases has an important advantage for criminological research: it is possible to link offences committed by the same individual, whether the offender’s identity is known or not. By making a one-on-one comparison of police data with the corresponding DNA data, not only can co-offenders be studied, but a larger network of offenders connected to each other can also be analysed, even if their identity is unknown to the police.


Co-offending Methodology Network analysis Serial offending Strategic research 



The writing and research for this paper were supported by the Be-Gen project. The Be-Gen project “Understanding the Operational, Strategic and Political Implications of the National Genetic Database” received financial support of the BRAIN-be Programme “Belgian Research Action through Interdisciplinary Networks” (Belgian Science Policy Office), contract number BR/132/A4/Be-Gen.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabine De Moor
    • 1
    Email author
  • Tom Vander Beken
    • 1
  • Stijn Van Daele
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for International Research on Criminal Policy (IRCP)Ghent UniversityGhentBelgium

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