Jun 12, 2012
Wednesday is crunch time for DNA databaseBack
Africa|PROJECT|Africa|Australia|Canada|China|India|New Zealand|South Africa|United Kingdom|United States|Criminal Intelligence Tool|Prosecutorial Tool|Transport|Vanessa Lynch
© Reuse this
The DNA Bill will allow South Africa to expand its DNA database for use as a criminal intelligence tool.
One of the supporters of the bill is the nongovernmental organisation, the DNA Project, under the leadership of Vanessa Lynch. Lynch and her team have been passionate lobbyists for the South African Police Service (SAPS) to expand its DNA database.
South Africa does not have a large DNA database as current legislation has kept it in check at around 130 000 profiles. Therefore, unlike the US and some 50 other countries, South Africa does not have a DNA database filled with a large pool of potential suspects that can provide the police with a clue as to who could have committed a crime.
“Currently the taking of DNA samples from suspects and the inclusion of DNA profiles onto the DNA database in South Africa is limited by the fact that we have inadequate legislation to allow for the proper development and use of a DNA database as a criminal intelligence tool,” said Lynch on Tuesday.
“The way in which the database is currently being used is to match a known suspect (arrestee) with crime scene evidence on a case-by-case basis, as a prosecutorial tool.
“This is also not mandatory and so, more often than not, it is not done unless requested by a prosecutor.”
In order for a DNA database to be used as a more effective criminal intelligence tool, South Africa must expand its database and make it compulsory for all suspects to have their DNA samples taken at the time of arrest. Convicted offenders will also have to contribute to the database, while all crime scene samples found at a crime scene must be analysed for DNA. All of these profiles have to then be entered into the database, notes Lynch.
“In this way we can link unrelated cases where there is no suspect, we can link a known suspect to other crimes, or we can establish if a serial offender is at play.
“The greater the size of the DNA database, in particular the reference index on the database – in other words, the index containing profiles of known persons, such as suspects and convicted offenders – the greater the chance of a match to a known person when an unknown DNA sample, collected from a crime scene, is entered onto the database.”
Lynch said the DNA database will work in much the same way as the fingerprint database, which has recently been enlarged to include fingerprints from not only from the SAPS, but also the Department of Transport’s (DoT's) license library, as well as the Department of Home Affairs’ (DHA's) identity document library.
“The amalgamation of these three fingerprint databases means that when an unknown fingerprint is lifted from a crime scene, the chances of it matching a known source in the fingerprint database will be much greater. Instead of just being searched against the SAPS database, it is compared to fingerprints held in both the DHA's and the DoT's databases. In other words, the greater the size of the database, the greater the chance of a match.”
Lynch, who was consulted in the drafting of the secretariat's DNA policy, said that if it is accepted by the portfolio committee this week, the State’s legal advisers will start work on the second draft of the DNA Bill over the course of the next few months, with the bill then tabled in Parliament around September.
“The process of deliberating on the DNA Bill will then continue from September and, depending on how many issues are debated and what kind of reaction it receives from the public, it will hopefully be promulgated within a few months. We cannot tell, however, what will transpire during this time.”
One of the concerns raised against an expanded DNA database has been around who should be included in this database, with some members of the legal profession arguing that there is no justification for taking a DNA sample from someone who is arrested for failure to pay their parking tickets.
At least 50 countries have DNA databases, with the first started in the UK in 1995. The US, most of the European Union, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, India and China all have expanded databases.
The UK has the largest database in the world (per capita), whereas the US has the largest number of profiles. According to statistics supplied by Interpol, in 2008, the US database had around 6.4-million offender profiles collected from convicts, arrestees or suspects, and 242 000 forensic profiles from DNA collected at crime scenes.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Updated 32 minutes ago Oil and gas players in South Africa should have clarity on potential legislation changes by as early as next week, Mineral Resource Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi said on Wednesday. Speaking to Mining Weekly Online on the sidelines of Paydirt’s Africa Downunder...
Updated 35 minutes ago A research partnership has been launched in South Africa in a quest to make air transport more environmentally and economically sustainable. Hydrogen South Africa (HySA) Systems, the National Aerospace Centre and Airbus are working together on research into using...
Updated 1 hour 14 minutes ago The South African National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) will not make representations to the advisory panel on e-tolls and their socio-economic impact, it said on Tuesday. "No, Sanral will not be making representations," spokesperson Vusi Mona said in an e-mail to...
Recent Research Reports
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
This Week's Magazine
South African State-owned defence industrial group Denel has announced its fourth consecutive year of profits. The group's results for the financial year 2013/2014 were recently announced at its head office in Centurion, south of Pretoria. Revenues grew by 17%, net...
There is little opportunity for JSE-listed infrastructure company Group Five to grow shareholder value in the domestic market, says CEO Mike Upton. He says value can still be found in the private sector, in the renewable and industrial power sector, as well as in...
The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) has announced the event dates of the 2015 Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS). The event will take place from October 14 to October 25, 2015, at the Johannesburg Expo Centre, Nasrec.
UK engineering support services provider Babcock is set to deliver the largest order of global truck manufacturer DAF’s truck tractors in Southern Africa to bulk carrier road-based logistics company Ngululu Bulk Carriers (NBC), with 133 trucks to be delivered in...
Digital radio communications in the African local government space can open up the world, but have many challenges to overcome, notes integration and migration of legacy radio communications infrastructure with digital mobile radio company Emcom Wireless head of...