New Zealand Widens DNA Database

A new law will allow police to collect DNA data at the same time they take fingerprints from people they intend to charge and match it against profiles from unsolved crimes. Previously New Zealand police could only take DNA samples after conviction or obtain an order from a High Court judge.

“Until now, DNA could be taken only with consent, or where there were judicially-approved suspect orders or police-issued compulsion orders, and only after conviction. This law will enable police to take full advantage of this modern-day fingerprint in order to solve cold cases and I have no doubt it will be a critical tool in the fight against violent crime,” says Justice Minister Simon Power.

“Police have also developed guidelines to avoid any arbitrary or unreasonable application of this power. I see this tool as doing as much for those who are innocent as for those who are found guilty of a crime.”

The DNA databank holds about 110,000 profiles and is expected to increase by 4000 each year.