DNA to be obtained by force if necessary

THE State Government has moved to strengthen legislation so that force can be used to obtain the DNA of those listed on the child protection register who refuse to provide it voluntarily.It follows pressure from the police, who said some offenders on the register have refused to co-operate since the Government’s move last year requiring them to provide their DNA.”Offenders who come into regular contact with police are adept at skirting around the law as a way of frustrating authorities and avoiding detection,” the Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, said. “These new laws will strengthen the process for taking DNA from offenders who have a history of harming children and continue to pose a risk to the community.”Lawyers cautioned that the courts already hold these powers, and that the police could make their case to the courts and let a judge decide.”It is unreasonable to give police that sort of power,” said Stephen Blanks of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties. ”The power to compel DNA samples should be up to the courts.”Under the proposed legislation, police will be able to detain people on the register who fail to co-operate and, if necessary, take a DNA sample by force. Additionally, if people on the register refuse to present themselves at a police station to provide a DNA sample, then police will be able to obtain a warrant for their arrest.”It is important that we take a DNA sample from everyone who has ever committed a serious crime against a child,” Mr Hatzistergos said.Offenders who go to prison for indictable offences automatically have their DNA taken under laws introduced in 2000. But those who committed offences earlier, or interstate offenders now living in NSW, do not have their DNA on file.People on the register must let police know where they live and work, and also what car they drive. This information allows police to keep tabs on them and gives police an important way of targeting repeat offenders.

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