Friday, May 7, 2010

What are they hiding? Some very worried cops

Forensic police refuse to supply DNA

Five police forensics officers have been booted out of their roles for refusing to supply DNA samples to their employer. The Queensland Police Service had given the officers until March 1 to provide a "voluntary" sample for the purpose of eliminating their DNA from crime scenes.

As many as 50 per cent of officers are believed to have objected to the requirement but only a handful stood their ground out of concern about the lack of safeguards for their genetic blueprint.

A QPS spokesman said 10 officers had refused to provide their DNA out of 495 who work in the forensics area. Of those, four are on long-term leave and are "not expected to return to forensic duties", said the spokesman.

The other five are working in an area of forensics that does not require DNA sampling and another will be asked to provide a sample when the officer returns from leave.

As a result, five scenes-of-crime and scientific officers in the South Eastern Region have been informed they will be transferred back to general duties.

A complaint has been lodged with the Crime and Misconduct Commission, which has referred the matter to the police internal investigations branch, the Ethical Standards Command.

A CMC spokesman said the complaint centred on the pressure being applied to supply a "voluntary" sample and the threat of transfers if they did not comply. "We will be monitoring that (ESC investigation) and reviewing the outcome," the spokesman said. He said the CMC simply did not have the ability to handle all complaints that came to it. "As part of the devolution strategy, we encourage police and other agencies to take responsibility for their own conduct."

An officer who spoke to The Courier-Mail said police were concerned the service was taking low copy number DNA which increased the risk of contamination and inaccuracy. LCN DNA uses as little as 15 to 20 cells for analysis. "There's a lot of concern about it, how it's being managed," the officer said.

The officer said they had been left in no doubt about their future in forensics if they refused to provide a sample. "The Superintendent of Forensics has told us directly, if we don't supply our DNA, we can come and talk to him about our career options," the officer said.

The Queensland Police Union is demanding legislative protection for officers who provide DNA amid fears the scheme will eventually affect all officers. [As it should]


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