Who are we?
Forensic Information Databases Service (FINDS) is part of the Home Office and are the service provider for forensic DNA databases.
The Forensic Capability Network (FCN) is the National network for supporting the use of forensic sciences in policing in England and Wales.
What is DNA and Y-chromosome DNA?
DNA stands for DeoxyriboNucleic Acid. It is the genetic material found in nearly all cells within our body. It determines our genetics and many of our physical characteristics.
Males carry a specific piece of DNA called the Y-chromosome. This Y-chromosome DNA is passed down from father to son. Men in the same family will usually share exactly the same type of Y-chromosome.
What are we trying to do?
DNA profile testing of the Y-chromosome is a vital investigative method, often used to investigate sexual offences. Very small amounts of male DNA recovered from a female victim can provide a Y-chromosome profile to help identify and convict an assailant.
Part of this process requires the determination of how often a particular Y-chromosome profile occurs in the general population. This is done by checking large reference databases which provide a statistical estimate of how often that profile has been seen. Currently a worldwide reference database called Y-Chromosome Haplotype Reference Database (YHRD) is used to obtain this statistical data when reporting on matches.
We want to develop a fully anonymised database of Y-chromosome DNA profiles specifically for the UK. This will enhance capabilities for our forensic scientists when estimating the rarity of a particular profile in the UK population.
Why are we trying to develop a UK Y-Chromosome Reference database?
The UK needs a Y-chromosome DNA database to better represent the complex ancestry and different ethnic groups within the UK population. This will be beneficial for police investigations and the criminal justice system.
What does your participation mean?
To enable us to develop the Y-chromosome Reference DNA database, we need to collect DNA samples from males from a variety of ethnic groups reflecting the general UK male population. For the avoidance of doubt, once your anonymous profile has been raised, your sample will be destroyed and the information retained will be a simple string of numbers which cannot be linked back to you. An example of a Y-Chromosome Profile is below.
What will you be asked to do?
The sampling process will involve swabbing the inside surface of your mouth cheeks to collect a DNA sample. This uses a swab, which is similar to a cotton wool swab and is a painless procedure.
We need and would welcome your support with the project. If you would like to donate a sample for this purpose, we will provide you with a DNA sampling kit. Enclosed in the DNA sampling kit will be:
- 2 mouth swabs
- 2 sample tubes
- 1 small clear sealable bag
- 1 large re-sealable bag
- A postage paid return envelope
Clicking on the ‘Participate Now’ button at the bottom of this form will take you to an electronic ‘Survey form’ and a ‘Research Donor Consent Form’, which will need to be completed in full.
The survey form will ask you to detail the population group of your biological father and paternal grandfather however, if you do not know, you can still provide a sample.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What will happen to my DNA and the information contained within my Y-chromosome profile?
A: The DNA taken from your cheek cells will be tested using a specific Y-chromosome profiling system. Your Y-chromosome profile will be identified using a barcode that came with your sampling kit. Personal information given during this process such as your name and address will be deleted as soon as the kit is sent to you. You cannot be identified from the DNA profile you provide for this project. Your anonymous DNA profile will be one of thousands used to develop a UK Y-chromosome Reference Database and will also be shared with the worldwide Y-Chromosome Haplotype Reference Database (YHRD).
Q: How will my DNA and information be held?
A: Your DNA sample will be destroyed once the DNA profiling process has been completed. Your Y-chromosome profile (the string of numbers) will be kept securely in compliance with the Data Protection Act 2018. We will not keep any of your personal information and your DNA profile cannot be linked back to you.
Q: Can I withdraw consent?
A: You will not be able to withdraw your consent once you have returned your sample, as we will not hold any of your personal details and as such, we will be unable to identify which sample/profile is yours.
Q: Will my Y-chromosome profile be searched on the National DNA Database
A: The National DNA Database (NDNAD) contains DNA profiles from crime samples and from individuals arrested or convicted for certain offences. Your Y-chromosome profile will not and cannot be searched against this database. The NDNAD utilises a different form of DNA profiling not compatible with the Y-chromosome profile from your sample.
Your information cannot be matched with information on any other database, in order to establish identity, or for any other reason.
Q: Will my Y-chromosome sample or profile be made available for medical, insurance, paternity or ancestry testing?
A: No, your Y-chromosome DNA profile and DNA sample will not be made available to anyone for these purposes.
Q: How else will my Y-chromosome profile be used?
A: We may wish to publish the outcomes of this project in a scientific journal paper. This could assist others in research and further development of Y-chromosome testing. In any such publication, your profile (the string of numbers) will be totally anonymous and could not be linked to you.