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50,000th DNA profile a crime fighting milestone

21 April 2005 Media Statement

50,000th DNA profile a crime fighting milestone

The 50,000th DNA profile to be submitted for the DNA Profile Databank is a milestone in the use of science to fight crime in New Zealand, Research, Science and Technology Minister Steve Maharey and Police Minister George Hawkins said today.

Since its establishment nine years ago, 50,000 DNA profiles have been entered into the Databank and 10,000 profiles from unsolved crimes have been registered on the Crime Sample Database. The DNA Profile Databank is operated by Crown Research Institute Environmental Science and Research Ltd (ESR).

Marking the milestone at the Mt Albert Science Centre today, Steve Maharey said New Zealand has been at the cutting-edge of the use of DNA to solve crimes.

"New Zealand's scientists have long been ahead of the pack in the use of DNA for criminal investigations," Steve Maharey said. "We were only the second country in the world to establish a national DNA databank.

"Reaching 50,000 DNA profiles should serve as a reminder that science has changed the way we fight crime, just as it has changed the way we learn, live, and do business."

George Hawkins said the DNA databank had helped police solve thousands of crimes.

"The DNA Profile Databank has helped police link 5,000 individuals to unsolved crimes," George Hawkins said. "DNA data is a valuable tool for the New Zealand Police.

"The Police have worked closely with ESR to build the databank. Our police are now obtaining 11,000 DNA samples a year."

The amended Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Act introduced last year has extended the range of crimes for which people can be compelled to contribute a DNA sample to include burglary. ESR works closely with the government to ensure legislation continues to evolve to match advances in DNA technology.

ENDS

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