17/05/2007

Nearly 200 crimes missed by DNA failings

Nearly 200 crimes went undetected due to failings over DNA samples, it has been revealed.

The failure to archive DNA evidence resulted in 183 crimes going undetected, including one paedophile offence, three robberies, nine burglaries, 19 drugs offences and 62 thefts, the National DNA Database annual report revealed.

The report found that more than 26,000 DNA profiles were not added to the archive between 1995 and 2004.

A review of the profiles, which ran from September 2005 to January last year, led to 1,168 "matches" between forensic samples from crime scenes and DNA profiles on the system.

Out of those, 355 were "first-time" matches which had not come to anyone's attention before the failures were investigated.

The matches were then sent to police for further investigation. The Home Office confirmed that the investigations led to 85 suspects being linked to 183 crimes.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "Between 1995 and 2004 there was a number of DNA profiles which could not be loaded on the National DNA database (NDNAD) due to incomplete information.

"This amounted to just 1% of all samples taken between these times.

"Once the Forensic Science Service informed the NDNAD of the load failures, swift action was taken to resolve the situation, and by January 2006 all the profiles had been investigated.

"Since this issue came to light, procedures have been strengthened to ensure that all forensic laboratories are now required to submit weekly and monthly reports on DNA profiles that are unable to be loaded."

Commenting on the announcement, Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson Nick Clegg said: "Once again bad news from the Home Office is being smuggled out long after the problem was first identified. Why did the Home Office not come clean earlier.

"The government's reckless use of the DNA database means information is held on tens of thousands of innocent people. But this becomes even more incomprehensible when they can't even process data on the guilty.

"This is another example of a database intended to protect the public that turns out to be faulty. With such a lack of transparency or competence, is it any wonder public scepticism about the vast ID database continues to grow."

(KMcA/JM)


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