Demanding DNA test was abuse of power by police

The Australian Federal Police tried to demand a DNA sample from a man as a known ‘sex offender’ because he had a conviction for a minor offence 30 years ago, when he was a 16-year-old juvenile.

The man, who was convicted three decades ago for kissing a girl his own age on the breast, has not committed any offence since, according to reports.


The police demand was part of their crackdown in Canberra under the ACT’s Crimes (Forensic Procedures Act) 2000.

AFP officers, who police the Territory, are demanding people convicted of sexual offences give up a DNA sample.

But, in the case of the 30-year-old offence, they eventually backed down, reportedly saying that – in future – they would contain their requests to offences committed in the past five years.

“This demand was an outrageous abuse of power by police, which shows a total lack of common sense by the AFP,” the CEO of Civil Liberties Australia, Bill Rowlings, said.

“Under section 74 of the act they are using, they must consider whether demanding a DNA sample is justified. Clause (b) insists they must consider ‘the seriousness of the circumstances surrounding the serious offence committed by the serious offender’.

“In this case, it was not a serious offence, or a serious offender and there were no serious circumstances…and it was 30 years ago, when the person was 16.

“How can demanding DNA be justified? The case involves a minor offence, by a juvenile then 16, who has done nothing like that again over the past 30 years.

“The trouble with giving police intrusive powers is that, eventually, someone will abuse the power. Just like other citizens, the police must act responsibly.

“Anyone else who is being bullied by the police to give a DNA sample inappropriately should contact Civil Liberties Australia,” Mr Rowlings said.

CLA’s comments featured on the front page of The Canberra Times on Monday 25 May.

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