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Monday, 29 November, 1999, 11:39 GMT
DNA testing expanded
Tony Blair gets DNA-swabbed for a photo-opportunity

Home Secretary Jack Straw has said he wants all police forces to take DNA samples from anyone arrested for offences that carry a prison term.

Mr Straw said the practice, which is currently being tested by the Metropolitan Police, has major benefits for crime detection.

The government is expected to unveil a number of tough anti-crime laws this week in its Crime and Public Protection Bill, including mandatory drug testing for offenders and an extension of electronic tagging.

Jack Straw: Investing 34m in DNA testing
The home secretary told the BBC that the government was prepared to increase its spending on DNA testing and expand the national database of samples.

Mr Straw said: "It's a very good way of identifying people, for example, committing serial burglaries as well as those committing what are regarded as the more serious crimes.

"So we are investing 34m of new money in that over the next three years as well as the additional money I announced three months ago - for example in respect of the 5,000 additional police officers on top of those already due to be recruited."

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, echoed that call when he addressed police in Kent to highlight the publication of new performance tables for police forces.

At present, DNA samples are taken from suspects arrested for violent crimes, burglary or sexual offences.

DNA will be taken for all offences carrying a jail term
But under the new proposals, anyone arrested for crimes such shoplifting would have their genetic make-up entered into the nationwide database.

The Metropolitan force in London is expected to lead the new strategy and begin taking DNA samples from anyone arrested for offence carrying a jail term, ranging from drink-driving to murder.

Mr Blair, who had his own DNA taken during his visit, said: "I want to see all police forces following the Met's example.

"Our 34m investment in the national DNA database will help them to do this. More testing will help solve more crimes and catch more criminals and not just murders and sexual offences. It will help in our fight to cut the crimes which affect most people - like burglary and car crime.

"A single hair left in a stolen car is enough to identify the thief. Last year 14,000 similar matches were made."

Mr Straw said the government was not planning to change the law which prevents DNA records being kept in the event that a suspect is not charged or convicted.

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See also:
29 Nov 99 |  UK
Blair hails crime league tables
29 Nov 99 |  UK
DNA = Do Not Assume?
15 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Crime bill focuses on drugs
20 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Initiative to fight petty crime
19 Nov 99 |  UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform
22 Nov 99 |  UK
Addicts 'committing crimes to get help'

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