The Justice Legislation Amendment (Police and Other Matters) Bill 2019 was introduced on 6 February 2019. It seeks to amend the Crimes Act 1958 (Vic) and to reintroduce a range of reforms in the 2018 Bill under the 58th Parliament. This Bill Brief looks primarily at the reform to include a new class of procedure known as a ‘DNA profile sample’, which seeks to grant police the ability to authorise the taking of DNA samples from persons suspected of committing indictable offences.
The amendments concerning DNA sampling proposed in the Bill have been supported by Victoria Police and the Police Association of Victoria. The Law Institute of Victoria and Victoria Legal Aid, among others in the legal and community sectors, however, have criticised and expressed concern about aspects of these amendments.
The proposed reforms in some ways mirror the laws governing DNA profile sampling and forensic procedures in certain other Australian jurisdictions—for example, in the ability to take a DNA profile sample without a court order. However, they also differ in a number of ways, such as the age at which a sample can be taken from a person, and the safeguards in place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.