DNA database ‘needed for detection’

THE lack of a national DNA database is hampering serious crime investigations, Garda Commissioner Noel Conroy said yesterday.

He said the lack of a DNA bank was a “distinct disadvantage”.

The commissioner said a database resulted in a 5% fall in crime in Britain and a successful ‘hit rate’ of 50%.

“Ireland now remains as one of only a few European countries without a DNA database, the availability of which leaves An Garda Siochána at a distinct disadvantage in crime investigation,” he said.

Addressing the GRA annual conference in Tralee, Mr Conroy said in Britain 50% of DNA samples taken during investigations matched samples on their database.

“This means that one of every two samples on their database results in information regarding suspects being provided to the police.

“The advantages of a DNA database for policing are clearly obvious, in that DNA extracted from crime scenes can save valuable time in speedily associating or eliminating suspects in an investigation.

“I, therefore, strongly support the early introduction of a DNA database in this country.”

Justice Minister Michael McDowell said he is in favour of setting up such a database and was awaiting a final report from the Law Reform Commission.

He said such a bank would include samples of those convicted of a crime and could include samples of those arrested in relation to a crime or crimes.

Responding to criticisms from the GRA that a report into garda management’s handling of the May Day 2002 clashes had not been published, Mr Conroy said the recommendations of the report had been implemented.

He said Assistant Commissioner Richard Kelly had carried out an examination and his recommendations had been put into practice in 2003 and 2004.

Mr Conroy said crime continued its downward trend in 2004 and that garda detection rates of crimes were stable.

“Our efforts to combat organised crime are ongoing and drug seizures continue to be made at an impressive rate.

“Our success in the anti-terrorist area is also significant.”

But he said gardaí must not become complacent.

“We must expect the decrease in crime will bottom out and maintaining current figures will be a major challenge.”

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