[Hpn] Fw: [stop-polabuse] racAU11-Perth police conduct mass sampling of homeless, Aboriginal DNA
Mon, 13 Nov 2000 23:16:39 -0500
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Sent: Monday, November 13, 2000 7:31 PM
Subject: [stop-polabuse] racAU11-Perth police conduct mass sampling of
homeless, Aboriginal DNA
Clamp on police use of DNA
By Colleen Egan
THE West Australian Government will introduce legislation to parliament
this week governing police use of DNA samples, following mounting criticism
of mass testing of homeless people in Perth.
Police Minister Kevin Prince conceded yesterday the police service had no
written policy on the collection, use and destruction of DNA swabs taken
Mr Prince confirmed that until legislation was passed, the only guarantee
that DNA samples would be used only for elimination purposes and that they
would be destroyed was "the officer's word for it".
He said the legislation, which allowed for a mixture of compulsory and
voluntary DNA collection and provided rules for its use and destruction,
would probably be on the parliamentary agenda tomorrow.
The Aboriginal Legal Service is advising Aborigines to refuse voluntary DNA
tests after the sampling last week of indigenous men and women as part of a
murder inquiry focusing on a white male suspect.
The service's chief executive, Dennis Eggington, said police were "jumping
the gun" on the legislation by enticing people to give samples to eliminate
them as suspects, when often there were no reasonable grounds to suspect
"The police are acting as if the law has already been passed through
parliament," he said. "They say the DNA tests are voluntary but it is
because of the way the police ask: they are saying that if you don't
provide us with a swab, we have to assume you are potentially guilty."
Mr Eggington said it was well known the police service wanted to increase
the size of its pool of Aboriginal DNA.
He was not satisfied with the word of a police officer that the homeless
people's DNA would be destroyed.
"We actually want to see the proof that this stuff has been destroyed," he
Mr Prince said he would condemn police if they were dishonest when
collecting DNA but did not believe they would be. He said the main features
of the DNA law were:
THE DNA of prisoners would be collected and stored in a database.
THE collection of DNA from arrested people would be done in a similar way
to how fingerprints were collected.
POLICE might ask people at any time voluntarily to give DNA for an
investigation and the sample would be destroyed after the inquiry, if the
person was not arrested.
POLICE might compel people to give DNA when arresting them if they had good
reason to suspect them.
Mr Prince said DNA had been used to great effect overseas, particularly in
Britain, whose national database had helped solve many crimes.
The legislation is unlikely to pass through parliament before the election,
expected in February or May.
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