Less than 0.6pc of crime solved with DNA

FEWER than 0.6 per cent of crimes committed in Suffolk in the past year were cracked thanks to DNA, it can be revealed today.

FEWER than 0.6 per cent of crimes committed in Suffolk in the past year were cracked thanks to DNA, it can be revealed today.

Despite police and ministers stressing its importance, The Evening Star has learnt that only 277 of the 48,330 offences carried out in the county were solved with the help of the cutting edge technology - around 0.57pc.

Today, rights campaigners claimed the figures indicated that the importance of DNA had been “overstated” and urged the government to resist calls for a compulsory national database.

Kevin Scott, director of Civil Liberty, said: “The figures don't surprise me in the slightest. It's no shock that it's such a tiny proportion.

“DNA is a useful tool in crime prevention and detection but we oppose any moves towards a compulsory database. That's a view shared across the civil liberties spectrum.

“The importance of DNA is often overstated because some of the crimes it helps to solve are major cases.

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“But sometimes it's the smaller crimes that bother ordinary people, things like cars being vandalised or houses being burgled. DNA has a limited role in detecting those sorts of crimes.

“It's not the panacea that the media and parts of the police force would have us believe.”

However, Ron Dixon, head of Forensic and Biomedical Sciences at the University of Lincoln, said DNA was used only as a “last resort”.

“Most crimes are solved by good police work using very traditional methods, things like finger printing and taking witness statements,” he said.

“DNA is often the last resort because it takes longer and is more expensive.

“However, in major cases both here and abroad, it has helped enormously.

“It's not just about securing a conviction, it's also about exclusion, too. How many people would be wrongly locked up today were it not for DNA?”

The significance of DNA was brought to the fore in Suffolk during the trial of Steve Wright, the Ipswich man who murdered five prostitutes in late 2006.

Traces of his DNA were found upon the bodies of three of his victims - Anneli Alderton, Annette Nicholls and Paula Clennell - and that evidence proved crucial in securing his conviction.

With almost three million samples, Britain's DNA database is the largest in the world. Controversially, police are allowed to retain DNA from anyone arrested whether or not they are found guilty of a crime.

DNA technology is employed, where possible, in any investigation, from low-level crime to the most serious offences, including murders and sexual assaults.

Do you support a national DNA database? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

THE Home Office today claimed the DNA database was a key police intelligence tool which helped to identify offenders more quickly.

A spokesman said: “The National DNA Database (NDNAD) has revolutionised the way the police can protect the public through identifying offenders and securing more convictions.

“The benefits of the NDNAD lie not only in detecting the guilty but in eliminating the innocent from inquiries, focusing the direction of inquiries resulting in savings in police time and in building public confidence that elusive offenders may be detected and brought to justice.

“It provides critical investigative leads and provides the police with on average around 3,500 matches each month.”

Total Crimes Detection Rate Crimes Detected with DNA

2003/2004 53,443 32.6pc 392

2004/2005 52,101 23.8pc 258

2005/2006 52,831 26.5pc 202

2006/2007 51,096 28.03pc 251

2007/2008 48,330 30.34pc 277