Police seek wider DNA data powers

WEST Australian Police have asked the state government to authorise them to take a DNA sample from anyone who is arrested, even for minor offences such as trespassing.

WA Police can now take samples only from people charged with or suspected of an offence that carries a minimum jail sentence of 12 months.

According to a report in The West Australian, police made the request for greater powers in a submission to the state government’s statutory review of the Criminal Investigation (Identifying People) Act 2002, which regulates the DNA database, collection of samples and the time and conditions under which profiles are kept.

Police Minister John Kobelke has backed the move, saying it would make police more effective.

“One of the initiatives I hope the review will consider is further opening up the use of DNA technology to solve crime in WA,” he said.

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

The review committee will complete its report later this year.

Council for Civil Liberties WA vice-president Tom Lawson said he opposed making it easier for police to take DNA samples. “There’s no justification for taking the DNA of people who have committed crimes that are not of a serious nature,” he said.

Under current laws, people suspected of an offence can request their DNA be destroyed if after two years they have not been charged or are found not guilty.

The WA DNA database contains more than 70,000 DNA profiles and is linked nationally.