A police force failed to submit DNA samples, including those linked to violent crime, rape and a murder, to the national database, a report has revealed.
It was “unclear” why the small number of samples linked to more serious offences were not properly processed, said the joint investigation by Dame Anne Owers, Chief Inspector of Prisons, and Denis O’Connor, Chief Inspector of Constabulary.
Their inspection visit to police custody units in Hackney, east London, revealed designated detention officers “operated an effective and efficient system of processing detainee DNA samples in custody fridges and freezers”.
But their report also stated: “A freezer and fridge in the CID general office at Shoreditch needed samples and exhibits to be reviewed.
There was only a small number of these, but they were linked to more serious offences. Some PACE (Police and Criminal Evidence), evidential and volunteer DNA samples had not been submitted to the national DNA database (NDNADB) or processed accordingly and the reason for this was unclear.
“The samples included some linked to violent crimes, rape and homicide, although the homicide sample appeared to have been taken and dealt with by an investigation squad not based in the borough.”
The freezer at Stoke Newington also contained DNA samples taken in February, June, July and November last year that had not been sent to the NDNADB or disposed of. Other areas of concern raised by the inspection included a “limited awareness” among custody staff for the needs of juveniles and women, and a number of potential ligature points.
The chief inspectors said: “This inspection of custody suites in Hackney identified some good practice, but also a number of areas for improvement. In particular, staff need to be properly trained for their tasks, not least to ensure appropriate recognition of the needs of the diverse range of detainees who pass through the suites.”
A Metropolitan Police Service spokesman said: “In what was an overall positive report into custody suites on Hackney borough, the HMIC raised some concerns about the retention of a small number of DNA samples.
“The HMIC did not make any specific recommendations and we are satisfied that no investigation was compromised; however Hackney borough acknowledge the comments and has, as a result, reviewed its supervision of the DNA-retention process.”