Minister Flanagan welcomes impact of DNA database on crime detection

 

 

24 May 2018

 

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has welcomed the positive impact of the National DNA Database in aiding crime detection. The annual report of Forensic Science Ireland (FSI), published today (Thursday), records that 34% of crime scene samples uploaded to the Database in 2017 were linked to a person, up from 18% in 2016.

 

The Minister said: “To date, the number of person samples added since the establishment of the National DNA Database is over 21,000 and approximately 913 investigative links between people and unsolved crimes have been uncovered, ranging from burglaries to sexual assaults and murder. The crime solving capacity of the Database will continue to grow as the Database grows. In 2017 alone, 34 out of every 100 crime scene samples uploaded onto the Database were linked to a person by FSI. This is a significant increase on the 2016 figure.”

 

The creation of the National DNA Database in November 2015 was a notable milestone in the history of FSI. As custodian of the Database, FSI inputs, updates and manages the information and gives relevant intelligence data to the police. The Database holds DNA profiles taken from suspects charged, reported or convicted for a recordable offence. It also holds DNA profiles from stains found at crime scenes. It matches profiles from suspects with those from a crime scene and can link crimes to one perpetrator. Operationally, the DNA Database has been a big success, as evidenced from the expanded impact.

 

The Minister added: “High quality forensics help establish the facts and turn the wheels of the criminal justice system. Public trust in the justice system relies on the validity of the evidence presented to the courts. That evidence is gathered and analysed by the expertise within FSI, underscoring the critical role it plays in the criminal justice system. Strong forensic processes, allied to good policing, are capable of creating a climate of deterrence for potential criminals and increasing public confidence in the criminal justice system.”

 

The Minister will visit FSI today where he will commend the work of its Director General, Mr Chris Enright, Directors and all FSI staff for their work, their commitment and the significant impact the organisation is having in supporting the criminal justice sector. The Minister will also witness how FSI contributed to high profile cases over the course of the year – from gangland murders, to significant drug seizures and aggravated assaults.

 

Commenting on the construction of a new laboratory for FSI, which is due to open in 2021, the Minister stated: “This new laboratory will provide FSI with a modern, purpose built facility, achieving best practice standards for evidence processing, analysis and storage. The Government wants to have the best and most modern forensic facility, to set the standard for the avoidance of contamination and the recovery, identification and interpretation of trace forensic evidence. It represents a significant and important investment in our criminal justice system and is a practical demonstration of the Government’s commitment to investing in the fight against crime.”

 

Separately, the Minister also commended the DNA Database Oversight committee for their strong oversight of processes and systems to insure compliance with the DNA Database Act.

 

ENDS

 

Notes for Editors:

 

Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) provides a wide range of services, under an annual Service Level Agreement with An Garda Síochána. It also provides services to other agencies such as the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), Customs and Excise and the Military Police.

 

The majority of the work involves the recovery, analysis and evaluation of evidence submitted in connection with a range of crimes - from murders, sexual and violent offences, firearms, explosives, assault, through to more routine cases such burglaries. FSI also provides analyses for cases involving the possession and/or supply of drugs as well as toxicological analysis for An Garda Síochána.

 

The recovery and analysis of DNA exhibits is a central activity, as DNA information is routinely used to assist in investigations (e.g. in eliminating some potential suspects and linking others to incidents) and is closely integrated with the maintenance of the National DNA Database.

 

The Annual Report for 2017 states that the FSI have contributed to high profile cases over the course of the year – from gangland murders, to significant drug seizures, to aggravated assaults. It also records that the Database continues to be a success with over 21,000 profiles added (assisting a total of 913 investigative links), with 34% of crime stains now having a suspect match from the Database (up from 18% in 2016).