Law Commission begins review of the Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Act 1995

Publication Date 
18 August 2016

The Minister of Justice has requested that the Law Commission conduct a comprehensive review of the Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Act 1995 (the Act) and report back with recommendations.

The Act provides the New Zealand Police with powers to collect, retain, and use DNA in criminal investigations. It also regulates two DNA profile databanks. These databanks hold the DNA profiles of those charged with, and those convicted of, certain offences.  This information can be compared to DNA collected from the scenes of unsolved crimes.  Matches between the two provide the Police with investigative leads.

The Law Commission President, the Hon Douglas White QC stated:

“New Zealanders will benefit from a criminal justice system that has access to the latest DNA technology. The current 20 year old legislation needs to be brought up-to-date.  This review aims to modernise the law and ensure that all the necessary safeguards are in place. It should set a new standard for international best practice.”

The lead Commissioner in charge of the project, Hon Dr Wayne Mapp, said further:

“DNA forensic science has been a powerful tool in solving crime. However, the use of DNA science also raises important issues of privacy, bioethics and tikanga Māori. These issues will be carefully considered by the Law Commission as part of the review of the legislation.”

The Commission intends to call for public submissions in the middle of 2017 and expects to report to the Minister of Justice in August 2018.

Updates on the project can be found at the Commission’s website at http://www.lawcom.govt.nz/our-projects/use-dna-criminal-investigations