Dutch Minister Grapperhaus of Security and Justice is making preparations for the possible earlier collection of DNA material from suspects with no known temporary or permanent address. In principle, and in accordance with current legislation, cell material is taken once someone has been convicted for a crime that could result in pre-trial detention. It turns out to be particularly difficult to obtain cell material from convicted persons without a known address. For this reason, Minister Grapperhaus is investigating as to whether the collection of cell material from this group could be moved forward to that point in time when they are taken into custody as suspects.
This is what Minister Grapperhaus has written to the House of Representatives in a letter in response to the report ‘Tweede Onderzoek Verbeterprogramma Maatschappelijke Veiligheid OM’ (Second Investigation Improvement Programme Social Safety Public Prosecution Service) by the Justice and Security Inspectorate (IJV). The Improvement Programme was put into action in 2015 as a result of the report of the Hoekstra Committee on the criminal decisions in the Bart van U case. According to the Inspectorate, improvements were made by the chain partners involved, including the Public Prosecution Service, the Police and the Dutch Forensic Institute (NFI). More improvements, however, are possible. Minister Grapperhaus will interact with the involved chain partners on the basis of the Inspectorate’s recommendations.
The Inspectorate has indicated that, in the event of a DNA registration of convicted persons, the lead time of the process has been substantially reduced. The majority of the identified convicted persons with a known address will be tracked down. It remains, however, an issue to take cell material from the group with unknown addresses in the Personal Records Database.
Currently, more than 268,000 profiles of convicted persons have been entered in the DNA database for criminal cases. In both 2016 and 2017, 26,000 new profiles of convicted persons were added to the database. Convicted persons of a crime for which pre-trial detention is possible are, in principle, summoned to provide cell material. If this summons is ignored, or if there is no valid address in the Personal Records Database, these persons will be identified in the Police register of wanted persons (OPS). A person will maintain the identified status until DNA material has been provided. This is why the total number of identifications increases on a yearly basis. The Hoekstra Committee referred to this in their monitor in 2016. At that time there were 15,602 identifications compared to 21,265 in April 2018. Most open identifications in OPS concern persons with no known temporary or permanent address. There are more than 20,000 of them.
It has been discussed with the House of Representatives at an earlier stage that taking DNA material from suspects who are taken into custody allows for a legal vulnerability and could possibly be in conflict with the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR). The decision was made to first evaluate the current law and the improvement measures already taken. This evaluation is expected in April 2019.
In order to not waste any time, Minister Grapperhaus has started making preparations to investigate whether DNA material can be taken at an earlier stage from a suspect with no known temporary or permanent address, the largest group of open identifications in OPS. If this is to be successful and legally sustainable, all processes must be well thought-out. Taking, storing and destroying DNA material requires a great deal of attention if the person in question is not convicted. By investigating these matters now, Minister Grapperhaus expects to present his decision on the taking of DNA material at an earlier stage to the House of Representatives in the spring of 2019, once the evaluation of the current law and the improvement measures already taken has been completed.