Vera Baird DBE KC

Writer, Lecturer, Parliamentary Consultant and Co-Director of Astraea: Gender Justice


Northumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner has written to the Home Secretary expressing her alarm at plans to destroy thousands of DNA samples from a national database.
Vera Baird QC believes it will be victims of rape and sexual violence who will ultimately suffer as a result of samples held on the national DNA database being destroyed as part of the Protection of Freedoms Act. From October police forces won’t be able to hold indefinitely the DNA of people arrested on suspicion of sexual and violent crimes if they are released without charge. Forces can apply to the biometrics commissioner to hold a sample for three years, with an extension of two years, if they have the grounds to do so.
However it is claimed this appeals process is not yet in place. The Police and Crime Commissioner said today: “I’ve written to the Home Secretary expressing my deep concern that thousands of DNA samples could be lost. “I’ve highlighted my opposition to early deletion of DNA and my fears that critical DNA which could support future successful convictions could be lost.
“I know the difficulties there are now in securing convictions in rape cases – it is very hard to give evidence in public about such intimate and traumatising events. However it is well known by police that in some cases rape is serial offending by the same attacker. Victims are more likely to give evidence if they believe that doing so will protect others. So if a victim knows there are other people saying that the same person raped them, they are more likely to give evidence – giving a better chance of conviction\”.
“With this in mind DNA is invaluable as historic samples can currently be compared and matched with new evidence – which can ultimately provide closure for some victims many years down the line. If DNA is destroyed after three years this can’t happen and we’ll end up with even lower conviction rates. And while there is a lot of good working being done in Northumbria to support victims of sexual offences, the conviction rate across the country is still far too low. Ultimately it will be the victims of sexual violence and rape who will suffer as a result when what we are all trying to achieve is to increase their support and confidence in justice.”



, ,