Minister Flanagan commends continued impact of National DNA database

 

 

9 April 2019

 

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has commended the continued impact of the National DNA Database in aiding crime detection following the publication today of the Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) Annual Report for 2018.

 

The Database is being populated with unidentified DNA profiles from crime scenes. These profiles can then be matched with DNA profiles uploaded from individuals under criminal investigation. Approximately 867 investigative links between people and unsolved crimes were uncovered in 2018, ranging from burglaries to sexual assaults and murder.

 

Minister Flanagan said: “I would like to thank Chris Enright and the team at Forensic Science Ireland for their tremendous work throughout 2018. High quality forensics help establish the facts and turn the wheels of the criminal justice system. Strong forensic processes, allied to good policing, help create a climate of deterrence for potential criminals and increased public confidence in the criminal justice system.”

 

FSI had added 26,649 profiles to the database by the end of 2018, as well as 5,326 unsolved crime stains. The crime solving capacity of the Database is expected to grow as the Database grows. Indeed, during 2018, 38 out of every 100 crime scene samples uploaded onto the database were linked to a person.

 

Other advances in DNA technology have allowed FSI to analyse more complex mixtures from crime scenes and compare individual profiles against the national database. FSI was the first to implement this technology in Europe which has already had an impact in criminal cases. The DNA team in FSI were recognised for this accomplishment with the top prize for innovation in the Civil Service Excellence and Innovation Awards for 2018.

 

Investments made in the DNA database, as well as DNA technology, also allowed FSI to identify five Missing Persons over the course of the year, bringing much-needed closure to their families and friends.

 

Director General of the FSI, Chris Enright, added: “2018 was a very busy year for FSI. Our world class scientists continue to apply cutting edge forensic science techniques in the course of their work. One of our biggest challenges is to stay ahead of new technologies year on year so that we can continue to provide every support to An Garda Síochána and to the criminal justice system. The 2018 FSI annual report proves yet again how new technology is helping us to have the most impact with our resources across case type.”

 

Aside from DNA, in the chemistry area many types of trace evidence were recovered in 2018 and compared with reference samples (e.g. glass samples, paint residue, firearm residue and debris samples from suspicious fires) to support criminal investigations. FSI also delivered 7,443 drugs reports, including 4,571 reports related to possession with intent to supply or cultivation charges.

 

Enabling works such as site preparation and flood control have been completed to enable main construction of a new forensic laboratory at Backweston Campus, Celbridge. Plans are at an advanced stage to integrate the laboratory-based services of the Garda National Technical Bureau (GNTB) – including Fingerprints, Ballistics, Documents and Handwriting – into FSI as a single cohesive forensic service provider for the State.

 

ENDS

 

Notes for editors:

 

The full annual report can be read at http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Forensic_Science_Ireland_Annual_Report_2018.pdf/Files/Forensic_Science_Ireland_Annual_Report_2018.pdf

 

Forensic Science Ireland (FSI) provides a wide range of services, under an annual Service Level Agreement with An Garda Síochána. It also provides services to other agencies such as the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), Customs and Excise and the Military Police.

 

The majority of the work involves the recovery, analysis and evaluation of evidence submitted in connection with a range of crimes, from murders, sexual and violent offences, firearms, explosives, and assault, through to more routine cases such as burglaries. FSI also provides analyses for cases involving the possession and/or supply of drugs as well as toxicological analysis for An Garda Síochána.

 

The recovery and analysis of DNA exhibits is a central activity, as DNA information is routinely used to assist in investigations (e.g. in eliminating some potential suspects and linking others to incidents) and is closely integrated with the maintenance of the National DNA Database.