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Last Updated: Monday, 23 October 2006, 15:59 GMT 16:59 UK
PM champions new DNA technology
The new test will allow about 40% more DNA samples to be identified
Tony Blair has urged all police forces to use DNA technology advances to crack thousands of old crimes.

Mr Blair has applauded the success of the Home Office and more than 14 forces in solving about 100 cases, including rapes and murders dating back 20 years.

Home Office Minister Tony McNulty also called on the Conservatives to admit they were wrong to oppose the 2003 Act during its passage through Parliament.

The UK now has the world's largest database of DNA samples - 3.6 million.

Mr Blair voluntarily gave a sample of his DNA in 1999.

While on a tour of the Forensic Science Service Headquarters in central London, he said: "I think the politicians are more resistant [to the database] than the public.

"I think the public think if this is helping us track down murderers, rapists...then go for it.

"In this day and age if you've got the technology then it's vital to use that technology to track people down."

When asked whether there should be any restrictions on the number of people included in the database, Mr Blair told Sky News: "The number on the database should be the maximum number you can get."

The message is clear - you will be tracked down
A Downing Street spokesman

Mr McNulty accused the Tories of "talking tough" and "voting soft" on crime.

"Their opposition to these DNA advances is a prime example of this. Thanks to legislation introduced by the Labour government, 21 dangerous criminals are now behind bars.

"The question for the Tories is whether they now support these measures."

A new way of interpreting DNA samples is now being tested by four forces.

Advances in DNA technology now mean old stains from crime scenes can be re-analysed using new techniques and matched against the profiles on the database - known as "cold case" reviews.

Stain samples

The Forensic Science Service (FSS) is currently piloting a computer-based analysis system called DNAboost, which can interpret previously unintelligible DNA samples.

It claims the technique is a world first which will boost its crime detection rates by more than 15%.

The method is being tested by the West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Northumbria and Humberside police forces.

It allows scientists to pinpoint DNA samples when more than one individual has touched a surface, where only small amounts of DNA have been left behind or only poor quality material was found.

The FSS can already handle more than 10,000 DNA crime stain samples each month and about 50,000 DNA samples from individuals.

The project has so far achieved 21 convictions, with several other suspects arrested and awaiting trial or sentence.

Sentences passed so far total more than 100 years, plus three life terms.

People who commit these horrific crimes need to know that these cases are never closed by the police
A Downing Street spokesman

A second phase of the project is to be launched, bringing Home Office spending on Operation Advance to 691,000.

According to government sources, the majority of the active criminal population are now thought to have their DNA recorded.

Police now receive more than 3,500 DNA matches a month - more than double the figure in 1998/99.

The 45,000 crimes for which DNA matches were achieved in 2005/06 included 422 murders, 645 rapes, 256 other sex offences, 1,974 other violent crimes and more than 9,000 domestic burglary offences.

Some of the most notorious crimes - such as that of "shoe rapist" James Lloyd of South Yorkshire, who was convicted in July of a string of sex attacks in the 1980s - are solved from "familial" DNA, where a sample from a family member leads to the criminal.

A Downing Street spokesman said: "The message is clear - you will be tracked down.

"People who commit these horrific crimes need to know that these cases are never closed by the police and that they will be brought to justice. Science is closing in on them."

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