Grapperhaus wants to optimise use of DNA analysis

Minister Grapperhaus wants to make more frequent use of DNA analysis as an investigative tool. A wider use of DNA profiling offers investigative services more leeway to prevent offenders from avoiding prosecution, trial and punishment. Minister Grapperhaus laid out this intention in a letter sent today to the Dutch House of Representatives as an integral policy response to two evaluations of DNA analysis, among other things.

Suspects sometimes fail to report or have no known permanent or temporary address after they have been sentenced. In this case, no cell material can be obtained from the suspects, despite it being necessary in the event that they commit another offence. For this reason, the minister wants to amend the DNA Testing (Convicted Persons) Act in order to take and store cell material from a suspect at an earlier point in time, prior to sentencing. The cell material would then be available when the public prosecutor orders the creation of a DNA profile for storage in the DNA database for criminal cases after a suspect has been sentenced. This process will increase the likelihood of catching offenders and possibly discourage them from committing new offences.

Grapperhaus would prefer to see a legislative amendment that enables taking cell material prior to sentencing from all suspects who have been arrested for crimes that carry a statutory term of imprisonment of four years or longer. The amendment is aimed in particular at those individuals who remain suspects after having been released, either following interrogation or upon termination of police custody. Cell material should also be taken from this same category of suspects if they remain in custody.

A second preferential option would be to take cell material from all suspects taken into custody prior to sentencing. A feasibility study is being conducted to determine which of the two options is the best with respect to amending the DNA Testing (Convicted Persons) Act.

In exceptional cases, it is also possible to take cell material from non-suspects (third parties) if these individuals do not voluntarily consent to their DNA being taken as part of a large-scale DNA analysis. This option is only available in the context of an urgent need or a very severe crime. For instance, the third party might appear in a police file for having been interrogated as a witness by an investigating officer due to the fact that they had been at or around the scene of the crime. In non-urgent cases, voluntary cooperation remains the basic principle.

Finally, Minister Grapperhaus is exploring the legal possibility always to take cell material and immediate create DNA profiles for a specific category of suspects – such as with violent and sexual crimes – in order to compare their DNA with that which is contained in the database.

Ministry responsible