Criminals face being identified within minutes of police arriving on the scene following new developments in DNA technology.

A way of profiling DNA is being developed by British scientists that will enable police to use a hand-held scanner that will give a result within minutes rather than days or weeks. They will then be able to use a massive DNA database to discover who has committed the crime.



In future, according to one detective, the only way criminals would be able to avoid being caught would be if they were “booted and suited” in protective clothing and carried their own oxygen supply.



According to forensic scientists, hand-held DNA scanners could be in use within five years, turning science fiction into reality.



In the futurist film Gattaca, police solve crimes simply by using “mini-vacs” to hoover up dead skin and hairs left at a crime scene, which quickly identify a suspect.



The real scanner is being developed out of work carried out at the Ministry of Defence’s Porton Down research base in Wiltshire, which has been working on a way to identify biological weapons swiftly so that treatment can be given.



The machine could also be used in doctors’ surgeries to identify quickly and easily people whose genetic make-up makes them prone to develop diseases such as Parkinson’s Disease and breast cancer. Prototype devices, which can be carried in a vehicle, have already been developed for this purpose and for use by vets.



Currently police and doctors have to wait days or weeks for samples to be tested at a limited number of laboratories.



A hand-held scanner would enable officers to feed in a sample of human tissue or fluid from a crime scene.



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