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Optimising the collection of canine DNA from worried livestock for forensic identity testing - AW1414

The purpose of this research is to optimise DNA collection methods from worried livestock. In doing so we hope to understand the circumstances where DNA collection is possible and assess whether DNA identification techniques can be utilised by North Wales Police as a tool for linking individual dogs to livestock attacks.
The legislation that outlines livestock worrying offences is the Dogs (Protection of Livestock) Act 1953 [1]. Under this legislation, Police have been prevented from collecting DNA from suspect dogs for the purposes of linking reference sample to crime scene sample. Updates to this legislation [2, 3] now allow Police to seize a suspect dog and collect its DNA.
There has been some reference to this work in both Police and Farming media [4, 5] with some guidance being issued to Veterinary Pathologists as to how to best recover dog DNA from deceased animals [5], although the guidance is not specific for Police and other first responders attending scene of crime. Furthermore, the guidance does not take account of all the variables surrounding the event, such as length of time and environmental conditions
Phase 1 ¡V Optimisation of laboratory techniques (5 months)
„h Phase 1a - DNA extraction and quantification. Being able to screen crime scene samples cheaply prior to
DNA profiling is a useful exercise in cost reduction. Not all crime scene samples submitted will yield a DNA
profile so providing investigators with an early indication of sample quantity and quality will reduce the
number of crime scene samples being submitted and failing. Gel based methods and qPCR methods will be
assessed as part of ongoing student projects.
„h Phase 1b - DNA profiling. The DNA profiling kit used for this approach is a commercial available ¡¥off-theshelf¡¦
validated product. Ensuring the method works on our instrumentation is needed before being able to
process de-activated casework samples. This process is relatively simple, requires 20 test samples and will
be performed as part of our routine laboratory instrument maintenance.
Phase 2 - Assessment of collection strategies (7 months)
„h Phase 2a - Collecting dog DNA from worried livestock. With the permission of North Wales Police and
pending ethical approval from both LJMU and NWP ethics panels, 30 de-activated crime scene samples will
be tested to determine the presence of dog DNA. This bench mark data will determine whether current
collection practices are appropriate or require optimisation and form part of ongoing research.
„h Phase 2b - Optimisation of collection methods. Key variables affecting successful DNA collection will be
studied as part of Postgraduate student projects, specifically a) recovery area, b) collection method, and c)
estimated time since attack. Together 150 samples will be assessed to determine the optimum set of
conditions for DNA collection. A key requirement of this phase is to only utilise materials and resources
commonly available to the first responders.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2022

To: 2023

Cost: £11,672
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University of Liverpool
Fields of Study
Animal Welfare