European Recommendations on Managing Forensic DNA Databases

In some ways, America remains a self-absorbed and insular nation. For instance, the thinking of European forensic scientists about interpretation and presentation of data from forensic investigations deserves more attention than it has received. The report of a European Network of Forensic Science Institutes working group on managing law-enforcement DNA databases also should be significant in refining policies on the many such databases in the United States. It addresses such issues as whose DNA profiles should be on file, how long the profiles underlying biological samples should be retained, DNA mixtures, low-template DNA, and “wild-cards” in searches.

Its recommendation number 22, about the statistics to use in reporting cold-hits (the topic of yesterday’s post), is this:

A DNA-database match report of a crime scene related DNA-profile with a person should be informative and apart from the usual indication of the evidential value of the match (RMP) it should also contain a warning indicating the possibility of finding adventitious matches (as mentioned in recommendation 21) and its implication that the match should be considered together with other information.


ENFSI DNA Working Group, DNA-database Management Review and Recommendations, April 2009, available via