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Thematic Issue: Life Sciences: Ethics, Innovation and the Future of Law

To Catch a Killer Cousin: Investigative Genetic Genealogy as a Critical Extension of Familial Searching in Serious Crime Convictions in Australia


Callum Vittali-Smith

The ways in which DNA can be used to identify unknown offenders in criminal investigations is constantly evolving. This article takes a developmental approach, exploring the use of DNA profiling, familial searching, and investigative genetic genealogy (‘IGG’), and considers whether Australia could, and should, expand its application of DNA analysis to identify offenders. Part II examines DNA profiling and familial searching which is now the status quo in Australia. However, it is then argued that familial searching is flawed, presenting unique issues of privacy and consent, and producing substantial biases. Part III then posits IGG as an emerging solution to the limitations of familial searching. Its development in the United States is explored, before explaining how the limitations of familial searching can be directly redressed by IGG. The article concludes by calling for IGG to be implemented in Australia, and offering some initial recommendations on how this might best be achieved.

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(2023) 46(2) UNSWLJ 464: