Sweden to take DNA from all crime suspects

The Swedish government plans to introduce a law which will make it considerably easier for the police to take DNA tests. From next year, anyone held on reasonable suspicion of a crime will be required to provide a sample of their DNA.

All types of crime will be covered by the law, irrespective of the punishment awarded.

Even people who do not fall into the “reasonable suspicion” category could be required to take a DNA test under certain circumstances. In such cases, the crime must be one which would result in a jail term – but only people who are found guilty of a crime which results in more than a fine will be recorded in the DNA register.

“This is going to give the police and prosecutors the tools to clear up significantly more crimes than today,” said Justice Minister Thomas Bodström after presenting the proposal to the Social Democrats’ parliamentary group on Tuesday.

“It also strengthens the legal certainty of judgements – people who are wrongly suspected can quickly be eliminated from an inquiry,” he said.

The Swedish police will have the right to take a DNA sample even if it is not necessary for a particular crime investigation – for example, if a person has already confessed to a murder.

Thomas Bodström dismissed the notion that a DNA register was a threat to an individual’s personal integrity.

“They shouldn’t commit a crime – then they won’t end up in the register,” he said.

The new proposal will mean that everyone who commits an imprisonable offence will find themselves in the DNA register.

Currently, the details of 3,000 people who have committed a crime which resulted in a jail term of more than two years are stored on a register. Police also have a database of 10,000 details of ‘biological traces’ which were found at crime scenes.

The new law will come into effect on 1st January 2006.

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