Wednesday, February 10, 2010

DNA backlog allows criminals to roam free

In a reasonable world there would be a 24 hour turnaround on this. The report below is from Australia but there are similar problems in some U.S. jurisdictions. See here

Criminals are being left to roam the streets because of a backlog in DNA evidence waiting to be analysed, the NSW Auditor-General says. The demand for DNA analysis has increased by almost 40 per cent in the past five years, with little in the way of funding increases, a report by the Audit Office says. There is a backlog of 6400 cases waiting for the analysis of DNA evidence gathered - a backlog that would take a year to clear with current resources.

The Auditor-General, Peter Achterstraat, recommended that police should prioritise DNA samples to have the best evidence analysed first. He also suggested prioritising break-in and other property crimes and moving the most recent cases to the front of the queue to get criminals off the streets. Other states had overcome their DNA backlog with greater resources, he said.

"The safety of the people of NSW is of paramount importance. "Crimes need to be solved as quickly as possible and delays need to be eliminated. "The efficient use of forensic analysis is critical in the prevention of further crime and needs to be addressed immediately for the benefit of the public."

AAP reports: To reduce the backlog, Mr Achterstraat recommended a user-pays system for DNA analysis, and for police to better manage demand. "Firstly, we need a user-pays agreement for all DNA analysis," he said. "Secondly, police must manage demand by determining the best evidence in a case and analysing that first. "Thirdly, the great impact on reducing property crimes will be analysing DNA evidence for the most recent cases first by moving them to the front of the queue. This will give police a better chance of catching criminals and preventing further crimes."

Mr Achterstraat also recommended a review of the cost effectiveness of outsourced DNA analysis. While NSW Health's Division of Analytical Laboratories conducts the bulk of DNA testing, about 5500 cases a year have been outsourced to the private sector. Outsourced analysis costs $412 per item, almost twice as much as tests done by NSW Health, the report says.

Original report here. (Via Australian Politics)

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