The use of DNA in criminal investigations

Publication Date 
21 June 2019

Issues Paper 43 The Use of DNA in Criminal Investigations - Te Whakamahi i te Ira Tangata i ngā Mātai Taihara was published in December 2018. The period for public submissions closed on 31 March.

New Zealand was the second country to create a legislative regime for the use of DNA in criminal investigations – the Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Act 1995.

However, the Law Commission says it is no longer possible to read the Act and obtain an accurate picture of the role and function of DNA profiling in criminal investigations. The purpose of the Act is also unclear, the structure confusing, and there is no independent oversight of the regime.

The Commission suggests two key proposals for reform:

  • The Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Act 1995 should be repealed and replaced with more comprehensive legislation;
  • An independent public agency should be given oversight functions in relation to the use of DNA in criminal investigations. Māori should have a central role in oversight. Oversight requires a range of expertise, including Treaty of Waitangi, human rights, privacy, tikanga, science, rights of children and young people, and ethics.

The Commission has been receiving submissions, meeting with interested groups and individuals to discuss the project, and raising awareness about the review, including presenting a PrivacyLive forum hosted by the Privacy Commission. There has been a range of media interest, including from Māori Television, RNZ, and the Spin-off.

You can hear Commissioner Donna Buckingham discuss the review in an interview with Kathryn Ryan on RNZ Nine to Noon from 21 February 2019.