Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Fishing for DNA III

It looks like Hone Harawira's allegations about the police unlawfully taking DNA from minors will be investigated by the Independent Police Conduct Authority. Good. The police must be seen to follow the law, and any unlawful behaviour by them needs to be stepped on hard. Anything less undermines the public confidence they rely on to be able to do their job.

Meanwhile, media reports on this issue keep saying things like this:

Voluntary DNA samples for 14- to 17-year-olds can be taken only with the consent of the suspect and a parent.
I think someone needs to read the law. Those are the rules for taking DNA from minors suspected of a criminal offence (see sections 6 and 8). But what is clearly being complained about here is the taking of DNA from people who are not suspected of any offence. And the rules for that - sections 30 and 32 - make it quite clear that samples may not be taken from people under 17, as they are incapable of giving consent.

The issue will also receive an airing in Parliament today, with Hone Harawira asking

How many DNA samples have the New Zealand Police taken from young people seventeen years old and under, over the last year; and what type of charges, if any, were laid against the young people who had DNA samples taken from them?
The response should be interesting.