The use of DNA evidence in cross-border investigations: From crisis to confidence

Ritchie*, T.C. Beirne School of Law, The University of Queensland

*corresponding author:

DNA evidence is being used more frequently now within the Australian criminal justice system including but not limited to police investigations, criminal convictions and disaster victim identification. In an era where national borders appear to be more of a formality, the opportunity for organisations and individuals to cross-borders and commit offences is increasing. However, many forensic databases are not interoperable, either domestically, internationally or across agencies, demanding workable and transparent systems be put in place before exchange is needed. A lack of international standards, quality assurance, and standardisation of data can render information transmitted across borders or agencies worthless. This research focuses on the use of DNA trace and evidence and investigates how Australia currently exchanges DNA evidence domestically and internationally and the legal framework that current decisions are made under. Further the research critically considers potential enablers and barriers in the process of DNA exchange. It is important to consider such issues in order to balance the interests of bringing the offender/s to justice and respecting the human rights and dignity of individuals, whilst also recognising the broader community safety issues in trying to prevent, control and respond to crime across international borders.


Jessica is a PhD candidate at the T.C. Beirne School of Law, The University of Queensland. Jessica’s research interests are in the areas of international law, criminal law, and evidence law with a focus on expert and forensic science evidence. Her current research draws on all these areas and examines the exchange of DNA evidence across domestic borders in Australia and overseas.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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