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Part 1D of the Crimes Act 1914 provides for the collection and use of DNA material for law enforcement purposes and enables the inter-jurisdictional exchange of DNA data through the National Criminal Investigation DNA Database (NCIDD). Pursuant to section 23YV of the Crimes Act, the Minister for Home Affairs commenced an independent review of Part 1D , in October 2009. This review was undertaken by a committee chaired by Mr Peter Ford, and included the Australian Privacy Commissioner and representatives from the Australian Federal Police, CrimTrac, the Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions and the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman
Part 1D of the Crimes Act was previously reviewed in 2003, by a Committee chaired by Mr Tom Sherman AO. The findings and recommendations of the 2003 review are set out in the Report of Independent Review of Part 1D of the Crimes Act 1914 – Forensic Procedures (the Sherman Report).
The Committee gave particular regard to matters raised by the Sherman Report and considered:
- the operation of Part 1D
- the extent to which the forensic procedures permitted by Part 1D have contributed to the conviction of suspects
- the effectiveness of independent oversight and accountability mechanisms for the DNA database system
- disparities between the legislative and regulatory regimes of the Commonwealth and participating jurisdictions for the collection and use of DNA evidence, and
- issues relating to privacy or civil liberties arising from forensic procedures permitted by Part 1D.
In accordance with the Terms of Reference, the Report to the Review, DNA Forensic Procedures – Further Independent Review of Part 1D of the Crimes Act 1914 was presented to the Minister for Home Affairs on 30 June 2010. The Report makes 32 recommendations which focus on:
- reducing legislative complexity by amending Part 1D to expressly provide for international exchange of DNA profiles with foreign law enforcement, and simplifying, where appropriate, certain consent and collection procedures
- considering the development of ‘best practice’ protocols around mass DNA screening and innocence testing
- the negotiation of uniform measurements by the Commonwealth to allow for better determinations to be made of the role of DNA in the conviction of the guilty, and exoneration of suspects
- enhancing accountability arrangements including auditing of Commonwealth contributors and users of NCIDD and refinement of the complaints handling processes
- the resolution of a series of outstanding legislative disparities related to
inter-jurisdictional DNA collection and exchange, and
- refining existing limitations relating to current and potential uses of NCIDDs to address certain privacy concerns.
The review sought submissions from a wide range of stakeholder groups including privacy commissions, police and other law enforcement agencies, civil liberties groups, legal bodies, as well as the public. Links to these submissions are provided below.
If you experience difficulty in accessing submissions please contact the Review Secretariat via email to Part1D.Review@ag.gov.au.
Roundtables for interested stakeholders were held in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane on 16-18 February 2010. The aim of the roundtables was to offer interested groups and individuals the opportunity to provide input on issues that address the terms of reference for the review.