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Using DNA fingerprinting to catch a killer

This summer marks 30 years since DNA fingerprinting - discovered by Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys right here in the University's Department of Genetics in 1984 - was first used in a criminal investigation.

A new article in the Guardian recalls the police investigation into the rape and murder of Lynda Mann and Dawn Ashford in Leicestershire and the unprecedented decision to implement DNA fingerprinting to hunt down the killer.

Thousands of men in the Narborough area gave blood samples in order to eliminate themselves from the investigation.

The technique saved a young boy from suffering a miscarriage of justice after he wrongly confessed to the murder of one of the girls and the real killer Colin Pitchfork was later arrested after it came to light that he had asked a friend to take the blood test on his behalf.

Over the last 30 years, according to the article, more than 50 million people have had their DNA tested during criminal investigations. It has secured the convictions of perhaps millions of criminals and, from time to time, excluded innocent suspects like Buckland, and overturned miscarriages of justice.

You can visit our anniversary website which collects together interviews and information about Sir Alec's life and work.

Watch an interview below with Sir Alec filmed in 2014 - the anniversary of the discovery of DNA fingerprinting.


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