The Press: New DNA law used to tackle 8000 old cases

Ian Steward of the The Press writes about the recent change of law widening the powers of police to take DNA samples, a move which has prompted some criticism.

A number of charges (as opposed to convictions) will now require DNA sampling, including mistreatment of animals, assault and indecent behaviour.  Some groups, however, are concerned that it signals a move toward a “genetic surveillance state”.

An excerpt: (read in full here)

“The police national forensic services manager, Inspector John Walker, said there were more than 8000 DNA profiles attached to cold cases awaiting matches.

“The DNA database of offender profiles stood at more than 100,000, going back to 1996.

“DNA has been used to solve historic cases such as the 1987 killing of Napier six-year-old Teresa Cormack. In Christchurch, Wayne Robert Jarden was convicted this year of two rapes, in 1988 and 1996, on DNA evidence. Last year, Aaron Lance Farmer was released from jail after DNA evidence contributed to showing he had been wrongly imprisoned for rape.

“The Justice Ministry forecasts that 4000 more samples than usual will be taken in the first year of the new laws from next July. A further 5000 samples will be taken in phase two, expected to come into force in 2011, when the power to take DNA will be extended to all imprisonable offences for adults.”