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DNA Task Force Targets Inmates

Police have formed a special task force to investigate prison inmates who are being linked to unsolved crimes through DNA testing.
The nine-member task force, dubbed Operation Helix, has already launched investigations into prisoners who have been positively linked to unsolved crimes.
Senior police yesterday said that charges in connection With arson, robberies and various sexual offences have been laid against 16 prisoners.
They also revealed prisoners had been linked to another 15 sex offences, seven robberies ana more than 50 house breaking offences through positive DNA matches.
The officer in charge of Crime Support Services, Detective Chief Superintendent Denis Edmonds, said the DNA testing of the state's 1150 prisoners was complete and the samples were now being processed at the Forensic Science Centre.
"There is an expectation that process will lead us to a number of cold hits whereby we can compare those DNA samples to unsolved crime scenes," he said.
"Given that we expect the results will come through at a fairly rapid rate, we need a management process in place to be able to assess the reports coming out of the Forensic Science Centre.
"We have put a process into place so that with each positive identification we get, it is verified and then added to any other information we have about that particular crime.
"We will then investigate that particular crime armed with the matching DNA sample."
Operation Helix started on May 3. It is expected to run for six months as the analysis of DNA samples from prisoners is undertaken by the Forensic Science Centre.
Chief Supt Edmonds said that there were few problems encountered with the testing of prisoners.
"We undertook an extensive marketing campaign in the prisons in conjunction with Correctional Services and various legal aid bodies," he said.
"We developed posters and videos so that those who were going to be subject to testing had a clear appreciation of what their legal position was, what the process was and how we would manage those who declined to give a sample."

Adelaide Advertiser (24-5-2004)
Nigel Hunt

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