New Police Powers: DNA The Clue To Crack Unsolved Crimes

Police will no longer need court approval to get DNA samples from adults suspected of having committed an indictable offence under new powers to be introduced into parliament today by the Andrews Labor Government.

The Justice Legislation (Police and Other Matters) Bill 2018 streamlines powers for police when taking DNA samples for suspects of serious crime and for offenders already in custody.

Police will also no longer need a court order to take a sample from young people aged 15-17 years of age suspected of seriously violent offences such as sexual assaults, murders, home invasions and aggravated burglaries.

These new powers will help Victoria Police to quickly identify criminals, particularly serious recidivist offenders, reducing the administrative burden on police and courts, and helping solve serious and high-volume crime.

Currently there are more than 55,000 crime scene DNA profiles held by police that do not match any person’s profile. These new powers will help to solve thousands of unsolved crimes that could be explained with new DNA evidence that will be collected.

Victoria Police’s Forensic Services Department estimate that within the first year the number of DNA samples in their database will increase substantially, helping investigators solve crime.

The Bill will also create new offences with tough penalties to further protect our police and protective services officers (PSOs) including offences to cover:

  • Offenders who intentionally or recklessly assault a police officer or PSO with an offensive weapon facing up to 10 years imprisonment rising to up to 15 years if a firearm or imitation firearm is used.
  • Offenders who discharge a firearm near a police officer or PSO facing up to 15 years in prison.

Higher penalties will also apply in aggravated circumstances. Where an assault involves physical force, or where the discharge of a firearm endangers the safety of the officer, custodial sentences must be imposed unless special reasons exist.

Bail will be refused unless there is a compelling reason, and a presumption of cumulative sentencing imposed.

The Bill also creates a new intimidation offence for police, protective services officers (PSOs), police custody officers (PCOs) and custodial officers and their families where they are targeted by serious criminals or their associates because of the work they do. This offence will be punishable by a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Police Lisa Neville

“By giving police these DNA powers they’ll be able to quickly and effectively identify and prosecute high harm offenders, reducing harm and clamping down on recidivist offenders.”

“These new police harm offences send the strongest possible message about protecting law enforcement officers from harm and threats.”

“We’re introducing new intimidation offences to ensure that our police, PSOs and custodial officers as well as their families, cannot be targeted by criminals for the job they do.”