I’m just a pin cushion…You Be The Judge…

Minister of Public Safety, Anne McLellan’s response to my request regarding Evidence Retention and the creation of a National DNA Data Bank …

It only took 10 months:

May 3, 2005

Dear Mr. Allore:

Thank you for your correspondence of December 15, 2004, concerning the creation of a national DNA Missing Persons Index (MPI). My collegue the Honorable Irwin Cotler, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, has also forwarded to me your correspondence of July 1, 2004, concerning the retention of physical evidence in criminal cases. I apologizefor the delay in responding.

As Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, I am responsible for the DNA Indentification Act that authorizes the establishment of a National DNA Data Bank and sets out its structure and purpose, which is to help law enforcement agencies identify persons alleged to have committed “designed” serious and violent offences.

I sympothize greatly with the friends and family of missing persons. I am very interested in the idea of an MPI to help bring certaintly and relief for them.

At their October 1, 2003 meeting, Federal/Provincial/Territorial (FPT) Ministers responsible for Justice discussed the possibility of developing an effective national MPI, and supported my predecessor’s proposal that the issue should be examined. Officials from my department, together with the Department of Justice Canada and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and the FPT officials, have undertaken work on the complex legal, privacy, and operational issues raised by the prospect of an MPI. A public consultation of Canadians will be conducted in the near term, and recommendations drawn from this exercise will be considered by ministers.

While we already have many tools in place to assist the police in missing persons cases, DNA technology could be an important part of the law enforcement’s efforts in this area. If we can use the technology we already have to help in these cases, we should do so. But we must be sure that an MPI would work effectively, and am pursuing this with my provencial and territorial colleagues.

With respect to the retention of physical evidence in criminal cases, I have provided a copy of your correspondence to the RCMP and am advised that it has procedures in place regarding the disposal of siezed articles. Indeed, I understand that it has always been their preactice to retain all pertinent exhibits involving unsolved homicide investigations. Presently, RCMP policy instructs its members to retain indefinitely all biological exhibits from current and concluded homicide investigations which would have normally been disposed of through the court system.

As I am certain you can appreciate, given that law enforcement and the administration of justice are responsibilities that fall under the purview of provincial attorney general, it would be inapproporiate for me to comment on procedures of other police services in Canada.

I appreciate having had your concerns on these important issues brought to my attention.

Yours Sincerely,

A. Anne McLellan

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