Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Fishing for DNA II

it seems that Hone Harawira isn't the only one with concerns about the police's tactics in building the DNA database. In the wake of his allegations yesterday, a South Auckland lawyer has come forward with stories of clients pressured and coerced into giving a "voluntary" DNA sample:

Lawyer Shane Tait mostly works at the District Court in Manukau and said he knew of three cases where clients had been pressured into giving DNA samples.

"If they had reported late then the Constable would say: Look, give me a sample of your blood and I won't arrest you for the bail breach," Mr Tait said.

This is unacceptable, and a violation of the clear intent of Parliament that voluntary samples actually be voluntary. Unfortunately, there's no specific offence in the Act for this either. There are offences for refusing to give a sample when required, for providing false information to the databank or falsifying information stored in it, and using a sample without proper authority - but nothing for obtaining a sample by false pretences or coercion.

This is something that should be rectified. ProgBills has a bill to do it here. Instead of calling criticism "unhelpful", Judith Collins should be passing it. After all, if the police are actually obeying the law, they have absolutely nothing to fear from it.