Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Compulsory DNA sampling from suspects

Is anybody else really bothered by this?

I have been against DNA sampling from people who are mere suspects of a crime from the outset. How far afield can the suspicion net be cast? And the establishment of a DNA link is not necessarily conclusive. DNA can be present for reasons other than the suspect committed the crime.

DNA technology has probably improved but anyone who watched the David Dougherty story at the weekend should be concerned about the misuse of DNA evidence which saw this man wrongly imprisoned for years.

It's really, really bugging me that National are going to pass this legislation. WITH the support of ACT.


Anonymous said...

My view is that any DNA evidence that is collected on a "suspect" ought to be destroyed if the suspect is found not guilty or if the state decides not to file charges. In addition, if a person is convicted and later proven innocent the DNA should then be destroyed.

Also the collection should be restricted to violent crimes such as rape and murder not to things like cross against the light or speeding. Police in the UK are using "suspect" so broadly that kids climbing trees had their DNA collected (they said climbing a tree is vandalism). Petty offenses should not be justification for collection of DNA from the people.

MikeE said...

Yup, especially for "drug" crimes.

It should be amended to be only for crimes which have a bloody victim, and the DNA should be destroyed if the suspect is not found guilty.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Well that's nice and handy for you because that is what National plans. But the crime is actually irrelevant if you are only a suspect. The principle at stake here is the time-honoured 'innocent until proven guilty'.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

My comment was for anon.

But Mike E I wonder too about the length of time that the DNA sample is 'active'. If it at the disposal of the police during the time someone is a suspect of a rape or murder don't you think it will be used to investigate other crimes? It couldn't be used in courts but could provide leads to 'solving' and prosecuting the victimless crime you refer to.

PM of NZ said...


Likewise I am seriously not OK with this idea.

It smacks of 'a basic legal and constitutional protection is overturned' where a person is guilty until proven otherwise.

Peter Cresswell's (Not PC) used those same words where seven hundred years of established principles were thrown out with the introduction of the RMA.

It appears our legislators are addled with this line of thought and it is so wrong. Like you, I am very uncomfortable with such a change.

Anonymous said...

We were burgled recently and the perps stole some laptops and did $6k damage to windows and doors. In trying to get through a toughened glass door the perp cut him?self and left a decent blood sample. The police said that probably the only way they'll catch the prick is with a DNA match. Frankly I'm relaxed about compulsory DNZ sampling at birth if it helps reduce crime. My kids have been having nightmares for the last 2 weeks.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Anon, Sorry for your trouble. We had a car broken into just months back.

But why can't the cops solve crime without DNA? They used to. The resolution rates were always around 90 percent from 1880 - c 1950.

Then as crime started to rocket up from the 60s so the clearance rate plummeted. We are thus softened to accept the 'inevitable' infringements on all of our freedoms.

Anonymous said...

Lindsay I can't follow your argument that only some evidence should be able to be used and other excluded. What next? fingerprints ? [sometimes unreliable], eyewitnesses [often unreliable], security cameras ? etc. DNA is an extremely reliable pointer to an individual. In our case, the only way that the blood on the curtain inside our house was there was because it belonged to someone that broke into our home.

Anonymous said...

I have never trusted the ability of police to operate with integrity. New legislation and powers only reninforces my mistrust.


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Anonymous said...

Also some schools are fingerprinting kids without parental consent. They claim it is used as library ID.

All year 9's were fingerprinted at my daughter's high school last year, and as far as I know only a couple of us complained about it - when this was done in Britain it was national news.

There should be outrage amoungst the libertarian community here, but I fear most have swung too far to the right.