Law Commission review of DNA use in criminal investigations reveals “significant gaps”

The body calls for the current law to be “repealed and replaced with a new statute”

Law Commission review of DNA use in criminal investigations reveals “significant gaps”

The Law Commission’s review of how DNA is used in criminal investigation revealed “significant gaps” in the operation of the Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Act of 1995 (CIBS Act).

In its report, the Law Commission has identified several “fundamental problems” with the CIBS – including a lack of a “clear,  robust  purpose”  to  guide  the  collection  and  use  of  DNA  in  criminal  investigations, being “out of step”  with  other  legislation  that  has  a  significant  impact on Māori rights and interests, and failing to proper properly accommodate human rights values.

The Law Commission also criticised the CIBS Act for being overly “confusing and complex,” as well as having no statutory provision for independent oversight.

“There is no recognition in the CIBS Act of the need to accommodate human rights values, including privacy and bodily integrity, alongside law enforcement values,” the Law Commission said in its report. “Advances in DNA technology have only served to increase the intrusive nature of DNA analysis on fundamental human rights values.”

To address the gaps revealed in its review, the Law Commission recommended that CIBS Act be “repealed and replaced with a new statute that comprehensively regulates the collection and use of DNA in the investigation and prosecution of offences and the investigation of missing and unidentified people.”

The Law Commission also called for the establishment of a DNA oversight committee to exercise independent oversight of the DNA regime, with members appointed by the Justice Ministry – including representatives from the Māori community as well as the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA).

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