About the DNA databank

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In 1995, a joint project involving the New Zealand Police and ESR created the 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 DNA Profile Databank (DPD), and this proactive approach to crime has resulted in a high success rate in producing valuable leads for unsolved cases.

The databank operation involves two databases – the DPD (profiles of individuals) and the Crime Sample Database (profiles from unsolved crimes). By comparing the two, possible suspects can be identified and crimes linked.

The DPD now holds about 189,000 samples and about 40,000 DNA profiles from case samples.

New Zealand leads the world in DNA matching with nearly 70% of all unsolved cases loaded to the crime sample databases successfully linked to individuals, and 30% linked to another crime.

In 2015, ESR and the NZ Police marked 20 years since the creation of the National DNA Profile Databank. ESR’s Senior Science Leader SallyAnn Harbison spoke to Fairfax media about the DPD and how it helps keep New Zealanders safe: