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Forensic evidence will not reduce crime – Ó Snodaigh

4 March, 2010 - by Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD


Speaking in the Dáil this afternoon, on the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Bill 2010, Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD said forensic evidence may assist in the detection and prosecution of some offences but it will not reduce crime.

Deputy Ó Snodaigh said public education is needed to limit the inflated false expectations of forensics raised by popular television programmes such as CSI.

He said:

“Sinn Féin believes that the lawful and effective collection and use of forensic evidence from crime scenes, from victims, and from suspects is crucial for obtaining sound convictions that are not based on confession or witness evidence alone.

“”That said, the potential of forensic evidence and DNA databases should not be presented to the public as anything more than what it is – forensic evidence and associated databases may assist in the detection and prosecution of some offences but they will not ultimately reduce crime. Crime prevention requires a well resourced and holistic response to its individual and systemic causes, something which this government despite all its tough talking has never promoted let alone introduced.

“Blind and unthinking enthusiasts of DNA databases will often argue that if you’ve nothing to hide then you’ve nothing to fear. But that simply isn’t the case. DNA databases can put innocent people at risk. The link between presence of DNA at a crime scene and involvement in that crime is far from straightforward and there is a danger that entirely innocent individuals will find themselves the targets of eager beaver prosecutors.

“Public education is also needed to limit the inflated false expectations of forensics raised by popular television programmes such as CSI. The virtually infallible, precise technologies and unlimited resources depicted are generally not available to the Gardaí – nor to most police services. It is also possible for a persons DNA to be placed at a crime scene either by corrupt Gardaí or by rival criminals.

“In my view the precise retention regime contained in the Bill before us is disproportionate and appears to have been arrived at arbitrarily. At the very minimum this Bill, and the retention timeframes and relevant offences in particular, should be amended to bring it closer in line with the Scottish regime.” ENDS

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