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In 2020, the police made 2,588 errors when collecting DNA samples from those in custody. This includes 773 cases where there was a failure to seal the bag properly, making the sample at risk of contamination.
Sampling Errors Of DNA
If you have been accused of a criminal offence, contact us now at Ashmans Solicitors. We represent clients across England and Wales. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Annual report 2020
Every year, the Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material publishes a report regarding DNA and biometric evidence. DNA and biometric evidence includes things like fingerprints, mouth swabs and footwear impressions.
The media has picked up on one particular issue highlighted in the report, and that is the number of sampling errors that have occurred. A total of 2,588 errors have been made by the police in 2020 alone, 773 of which happened because the bag was not sealed properly. This is the most common sampling error made by the police, accounting for 30% of all errors since 2016. Although the report does not mention whether this led to any cases collapsing, it is possible that has happened.
Procedures are in place to prevent such errors from arising. For example, when a DNA sample is taken, the bag should be sealed, the barcode applied and the swab placed in the tube. The swab can then be sent for profiling. A failure to follow the procedures can subject the swab to contamination, meaning it cannot be used as evidence.
The collection of DNA and biometric evidence
DNA and biometrics can be taken when an individual is convicted of a recordable offence. A sample can also be taken from a person if they give consent. However, biometrics should only be taken if a suspect is cautioned, charged or issued with a Notice of Intended Prosecution. In certain circumstances, consent is not required and a sample can be taken by force.
The information is held in a database and can be called upon when DNA is found at a crime scene. In England and Wales in 2020, 66.13% of suspects were identified in this manner.
DNA Error solicitors – England and Wales
If you have been accused of a criminal offence, contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. We can advise you of your rights regarding the collection of DNA and biometrics. If the case against you proceeds, we can also check whether the correct procedures were followed during the collection of DNA samples. If there is any suggestion of contamination, the sample cannot be produced as evidence.
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