John Kobelke

John Kobelke

Minister for Police and Emergency Services; Community Safety; Water Resources; Sport and Recreation

    DNA proves a vital tool in tackling crime

    28/04/2008 12:00 AM
     

    The State Government will look to strengthen the use of DNA technology in the fight against crime, with a review of the Criminal Investigation (Identifying People) Act 2002.

     

    Police Minister John Kobelke said the use of DNA technology had been established as a vital tool in the fight against crime in Western Australia.

     

    More than 98,000 Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) samples have been collected in WA since the legislation came into force in 2002, with 73,385 people profiled on the WA DNA Database.

     

    Samples from more than 5,000 incidents are submitted by police to the PathWest laboratory each year as part of property crime offences.  Police have established links to a person in more than 30 per cent of these cases. These links would not have otherwise been possible without DNA technology.

     

    DNA has resulted in 8,100 people in WA being linked directly to a crime scene since 2002.  

     

    Since 2005, the sharing of intelligence between the States has also made 193 connections with people from, or crimes in, other States and internationally, some of which date back a number of years.

     

    “While our current legislation is highly regarded across the country and has already had a big impact on police investigations and successful prosecutions in WA, it does not mean that it cannot be made even more effective,” Mr Kobelke said.

     

    “An independent reference group, chaired by former Supreme Court Judge Robert Anderson QC, has been appointed to undertake the statutory review of the current legislation and how it might be improved and modernised.

     

    “The statutory review of the legislation will enable advancements in science and technology to be considered in conjunction with issues of sample collection and profile storage and management.”

     

    The current legislation does not relate to DNA alone and also covers identifying matters such as fingerprints, footprints, hair samples and photographs.  Advancements in science and flexibilities that may be needed in the legislation for the future would also be considered in the review.

     

    The review’s terms of reference include:

    ·         intrastate, interstate and international issues, policy, legislation, industry developments and best practice applications relevant to identifying persons;

    ·         operational issues such as consent;

    ·         scientific and technical matters;

    ·         ethical matters such as the use of DNA data in the public and private sectors;

    ·         public safety and security matters such as the storage, retention and destruction of DNA and other identifying evidence; and

    ·         reciprocal information sharing arrangements, both national and international.

     

    The Minister said while the Act enabled personal details and identifying particulars of people to be obtained by police and other officers for forensic and related purposes, not all DNA samples collected related to an offender, with many samples collected for the purpose of excluding a person from an investigation.

     

    WA’s leading position in relation to DNA was evident through its position as the largest contributor to the National Criminal Investigation DNA Database, having provided the profiles of 71,150 people since 2002 to assist other States in identifying offenders.

     

    “The State Government is committed to the use of DNA technology in the investigation of crime and subsequent prosecution and punishment of offenders,” Mr Kobelke said.

     

    “The success of DNA in WA should serve as a warning that police will use all technologies available to them to catch the criminals.

     

    “One of the initiatives I hope the review will consider is opening up even further the ability for DNA technologies to be used to solve crime in WA.

     

    “The further expansion of DNA will help catch serious offenders who deserve to be locked up.”

     

    The findings of the review are expected to be presented to Government by early November and people can find more information on how to make a submission at http://wa.gov.au/dnaactreview/

     

    Minister's office - 9222 9211