Dutch police to start determining suspects' skin color from DNA

A forensic investigator at the scene of a crime
A forensic investigator at the scene of a crime. (Photo: VitalikRadko/DepositPhotos)

The Dutch police will soon start using DNA found at crime scenes to determine the skin color of the suspect. This technique is now reliable enough that it can be used in investigations, Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus of Justice and Security announced, NU.nl reports.

The police already use DNA traces to determine whether a suspect is a man or a woman, and what color eyes and hair they probably have. Very light or very dark skin color could also already be established, but the skin colors in between were very difficult. But that changed recently, Grapperhaus wrote in a letter to the Tweede Kamer, the lower house of Dutch parliament. 

By using DNA traces to establish a suspect's skin color, the police can draw up a clearer description of the suspect, which could lead to a quicker arrest. 

Special forensic detectives will also soon be able to do DNA testing at the crime scene using mobile equipment, Grapperhaus said. For example, a DNA trace found at the scene of a terrorist attack can immediately be recorded, and the laboratory may then be able to immediately identify a suspect. 

Grapperhaus is currently working on changing the law to allow these new techniques. Once the law is changed, two police teams will experiment with the new possibilities.