24/11/2003

DNA-testing on prisoners solves 64 old crimes

Police have cleared up 64 old crimes - including murder, rape and robbery – and are reinvestigating a further 78 unsolved crimes following DNA testing of prisoners and mentally disordered offenders, Home Office Minister Hazel Blears announced today.

The DNA ‘mopping up’ exercise began in prisons in February and was completed at the end of September. DNA samples from 3,772 prisoners and mentally disordered offenders whose DNA was missing from the database, has been obtained, analysed and loaded onto the National DNA Database.

As a result of this initiative, 64 previously unsolved crimes have been detected or cleared up and police are currently re-investigating a further 78 outstanding crimes.

The new DNA matches resulting in detections include the 1997 murder of a 12-year-old girl in London – a man has been charged over the killing.

Around 24% of all crimes are detected but 38% of crimes are detected where DNA has been loaded to the database. Fourteen per cent of all burglaries are detected but 48% of burglaries are detected where DNA has been loaded to the database, the government claimed.

Ms Blears said: "DNA technology has transformed the fight against crime. It helps police identify criminals, make earlier arrests, obtain more secure convictions, and plays a key role in solving old crimes – that is why we have invested £182 million in expanding the national database."

There are currently over two million DNA profiles on the database – every week around 1,000 DNA profiles taken from crime scenes are matched with names on the database. And around 42% of those matches are turned into detections, the government said.

We will continue to harness new technology in our fight against crime, while making the most of existing technology, Ms Blears said.

New powers in the Criminal Justice Act will allow officers to take DNA and fingerprint samples at the point of arrest rather than the point of charge.

(gmcg)

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