When a serious crime is committed, police need answers quickly to increase their chances of apprehending the offender(s). Police are required to make informed decisions at the site of the crime, so better understanding of a sample at its source is helpful.
Forensics teams must collect samples and test them before delivering their results to the police. Generally this process requires samples to be transported to a centralized laboratory for analysis. This can take up to several days, depending on the case, and how many times scientists must return to the crime scene to collect additional samples.
The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) scientist Rachel Fleming has recognized the opportunity for a better process through on-site analysis, to help scientists, police and prosecutors carry out their work more efficiently.
In New Zealand, once samples are collected from a crime scene they are returned to one of three labs to undergo qPCR testing. This determines who the sample came from as well as what it consists of (e.g. saliva, blood, etc.). When the ESR team are confident of the result, they inform the police to aid in the investigation.
Having the ability to conduct these analyses at the crime scene without the need to take samples off site would result in faster sample turnaround and more efficient use of forensic resources.
Rachel’s work in this area is world leading “We have a lot to do with Australia, the US, UK and European groups, even though we’re just little old New Zealand, we do have a big say in the forensic community,” she explains.
For the New Zealand police, timeliness is everything when it comes to crime scene testing and sampling. Speeding up the testing process can greatly increase the chances of a successful investigation, apprehending the offender faster and ensuring a solid case is built around them.
Ubiquitome is running a grants program for research groups who would benefit from a mobile qPCR device. Rachel Fleming has been chosen as one of the finalists. To find out more about the program and view the other finalists, visit the website here.