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Alternative Law Journal

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Editors --- "Letter to the Editor" [2001] AltLawJl 37; (2001) 26(2) Alternative Law Journal 101


Dear Editor,

In the February DownUnderAllOver column there was an all-too-rare and very welcome contribution from Tasmania. Under the heading 'Sampling prisoners' it was said that suspects not subsequently charged needed to apply under Tasmania's new Forensic Procedures Act 2000 for the destruction of their DNA material.

That was certainly the case in an early version of the Bill but, unlike many other outrageous provisions in that legislation, was dropped from the final Bill. Consequently, such DNA must now be destroyed once 12 months has elapsed since it was taken, unless the police successfully seek from a magistrate an extension of up to a further 12 months for its retention where there are 'special reasons'. (Multiple extensions may be granted.)

On the other hand, there is no provision to destroy the DNA of a person once they're convicted of a 'serious of­ fence'. In Tasmania, unlike any other Australian jurisdiction, a 'serious' offence includes such activities as breaking a streetlight, defacing a road sign or intimidating a public official. Their DNA remains on the national CrimTrac database. Given that such of­ fenders may be as young as 10, Tasmania is at least showing the way in labelling and net-widening.

Robert Johnson

Manager Hobart Community Legal Service

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