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Bill to convict more burglars passes first hurdle

Tony Ryall National Police Spokesperson

Wednesday 28 March 2001

Bill to convict more burglars passes first hurdle in Parliament

Parliament today unanimously supported Tony Ryall's Private Members Bill that will give the police a new weapon to secure burglary convictions.

Despite Mr Goff originally indicating the Government would oppose the Bill, the Government today voted for its progression. Mr Goff is currently out of the country.

Speaking in Parliament today, National's Police spokesman Tony Ryall said his Bill would give police the power to take compulsory DNA samples from burglary suspects for securing convictions.

"By violating our homes and businesses, burglars steal not only our property but also our sense of security," Mr Ryall said.

"We know that most serious criminals start their lives of crime as juveniles committing burglaries. If we can catch them and turn them around early we can prevent a lot of other crime further down the track.

"Often the police recover blood, body fibres, and saliva at burglary scenes. Under the Criminal Investigations (Blood Samples) Act, once a burglar has been convicted, the police can take DNA samples for filing on the National DNA database for 'matching' against DNA found at other crime scenes. Because most burglars are repeat offenders their DNA is often on the database.

"But, in the case of a burglary where there is a database match with an offender, the police cannot use that evidence in Court without the permission of the accused! That has to change. This Bill will give the Police access to this technology so they can collect the evidence they need to bring burglars to justice.

"DNA testing will help the Police solve more crimes and it will give sentencing judges much better information about just how many burglaries the person before them has really committed.

"In the case of recidivist adult burglars that may well mean more prison sentences. In the case of juvenile offenders it will help judges and social agencies make better decisions about how young offenders should be dealt with.

"The Government says it will also investigate the introduction of collecting DNA samples through saliva tests rather than blood tests. This makes sense," Mr Ryall said.

The plan was announced in 1999 as part of National's Law and Order policy. Mr Ryall's Bill was put into the ballot in March last year and was drawn for consideration by Parliament in December.

Ends


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