The DNA Profile Databank has two databases:
- National DNA database (profiles of individuals)
- Crime Sample database (profiles from unsolved crimes)
By comparing the two databases possible suspects can be identified and crimes linked.
Since the operational start of the DNA Profile Databank in 1996, more than 135,000 individual profiles have been completed to the National DNA Database (NDD). Most individual profiles held on the DNA Profile Databank now come from buccal swabs (taken from inside the mouth).
The overall success rate in DNA matching in NZ is world-leading. Nearly 70% of all unsolved cases loaded to the crime sample databases are linked to individuals, and 30% linked to another crime.
- Once a DNA profile has been taken the sample is destroyed and only the profile is retained.
- The profile is a string of numbers that are stored on the DNA Profile Databank.
- The only genetic information that can be obtained from this profile is gender.
- The DNA Profile Databank link is only used for intelligence purposes, it is not directly admissible in court.
ESR and the New Zealand Police comply with all requirements of the CI(BS) Act in fill in order to maintain the integrity of the DNA Profile Databank as a forensic investigative tool. The Act is designed with a strong focus on the rights of the individual, and places rigorous requirements on the police as investigators and collectors of samples, and also on ESR as custodians of the Databank.
- ESR has strict protocols in regard to management of the DNA Profile Databank and takes its custodial role very seriously.
- The databank system is on a separate dedicated secure system that is physically isolated and contains a number of security features.
- External parties, including the New Zealand Police, cannot access any information on the database without strict processes being undertaken.
- Access by ESR staff is extremely limited, physically and by system security features, to only those working with the forensic DNA facility.
In 1995, a joint venture project involving the New Zealand Police and ESR was undertaken to create a National DNA Profile Databank.
This involved the collection of DNA profiles from convicted offenders and volunteers onto a central database to be administered by ESR on behalf of the New Zealand Police. The database is matched against DNA profiles obtained from unsolved crimes in an attempt to identify any individual that could be linked to an offence through biological material left at the crime scene.
New Zealand was only the second country in the world to create a National DNA Profile Databank, and this proactive approach to crime has resulted in a high success rate in producing valuable leads for unsolved cases.
For the DNA Profile Databank to be created, existing legislation was amended and the Criminal Investigations (Blood Samples) Act 1995 was passed.
The CI(BS) Act
The Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Act 1995 was amended in 2003 to allow DNA profiles gained from buccal, or mouth, swabs to be included on the Databank, where previously only profiles from blood samples were permitted.
ESR and the New Zealand Police comply with all requirements of the CI(BS) Act in fill in order to maintain the integrity of the DNA Profile Databank as a forensic investigative tool.
The DNA Profile Databank : a crime-solving tool
The concept of the DNA Profile Databank as a crime-solving tool was strategically directed at a number of areas of criminal activity. A primary aim of the intelligence information generated by the DNA Profile Databank is to significantly reduce volume crimes (such as burglary). Of the total number of reported links, approximately 75-80% have originated from burglaries.