The Australian Federal Police will soon be armed with pioneering DNA technology to help stop cases going cold.
If DNA left behind at the scene of a crime does not hit a match on any national data bases, cases can often sit unsolved for years.
But now, thanks to new forensic technology, the AFP will be able to develop a broad picture of what the offender physically looks like, even if that person does not exist in any identity databases.
The new technology known as Massively Parallel Sequencing (MPS) can provide predictions for someone’s gender, eye colour and, in coming months, hair colour.
MPS is more informative than traditional DNA profiling.
Its true power comes from its ability to obtain leads from DNA when the perpetrator is unknown and there is no matching profile on a law enforcement DNA database.
It can also be used in missing persons and unidentified human remains cases.
MPS capabilities will only increase, Dr Paul Roffey, lead scientist behind MPS at AFP Forensics predicted.
“Over the next decade our team will be looking to widen prediction capabilities to include traits such as age, body mass index and height,” he said.
“We will also be seeking opportunities to provide fine detail predictions for facial metrics such as distance between the eyes, eye, nose and ear shape, lip fullness, and cheek structure”.
The AFP has been testing MPS to ensure its accuracy, before using it in any forensic investigations.