NFI, police and PPS explore possibilities of mobile analysis equipment

The aim is to make it possible for the police to carry out more and more measurements themselves in the future. They will still receive an expert report from the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI), but they will then have it faster. This may help identifying – or excluding – suspects at an earlier stage.

The final object of the Remote Forensics innovation programme is to bring investigation techniques that are currently performed in the laboratory to the crime scene. The programme consists of various projects.

Image: ©Netherlands Forensic Institute / Netherlands Forensic Institute


Here, the NFI, together with the police, the PPS, and the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences, try to solve the question of whether the police could carry out several steps in the analysis of DNA in high-priority cases using special investigation equipment: localDNA.

Employees of the forensic investigation service would then be able to enter an item of evidence in a device that is placed in a forensic investigation facility at the police station. The device subsequently analyses the item of evidence, makes a DNA profile and sends this to the NFI. The NFI experts check whether the items of evidence have been entered and interpreted correctly and report on the results. If the results are promising, the NFI will also be able to carry out the comparison with the DNA database for criminal matters.

Reliability, quality and privacy

As far as the technique is concerned, this is already possible, but the switch to this new working procedure is not feasible in the short term. “DNA legislation is complicated”, Leon Schutte explains, Manager of the innovation programme. “Confidentiality of DNA profiles is very high. It is not possible to just measure a case sample using these new techniques. Reliability, quality, and privacy must be safeguarded to the maximum extent possible. In a laboratory, the controllability of the circumstances is much better than when the investigation is carried out outside a laboratory.”

In addition, it must be examined whether the advantages gained by localDNA compensate for the financial investment. “In a large country such as the United States, you can imagine that there is a profit, but the question is whether this is also the case in the Netherlands where the distances are much shorter,” Schutte says. The DNA analysis of high-priority evidence takes, on average, six hours to two weeks at the NFI.

DNA Kiosk

Another component of the innovation programme is the DNA Kiosk. Within the framework of this project, the NFI, police, and PPS are examining the way in which the police may obtain better insight into whether evidence is promising at an earlier stage. Sometimes, the police send evidence to the NFI for DNA analysis, but afterwards it turns out that there is not enough material to make a DNA profile. As a result, precious time is lost. The aim of this project is to examine whether it is possible for the police to carry out an initial analysis to determine whether evidence that has been secured can produce a DNA profile. In addition, it is being examined whether the regular process can be improved such that the police are given a definite answer about this sooner.

Feasibility depends on many factors. Schutte: “It applies to all innovations within our programme that they must provide maximum added value to our clients. And to do this within the best possible delivery period and at the lowest costs.”


The project from the Remote Forensics innovation programme that is already used in actual practice is NFiDENT. This analysis equipment can be used by the police themselves to test drugs. A lot of time is thus gained. Two police units have tested the equipment extensively, and the police are expected to roll out NFiDENT across the Netherlands in the coming year.

Drugs tested much faster

With the ‘old’ process, it takes on average up to 22 days before the results of the drugs analysis are known. Much time is lost on logistics: drug samples must be packaged and transported. With NFiDENT, police officers carry out the forensic tests themselves. The data measured is sent to the NFI where an expert analyses the results and draws up a report on this. Sometimes, the police officer has the report on his/her desk that same day.