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DNA fingerprinting gets thumbs up from police

Taking DNA samples can help the police identify criminals

(Keystone Archive)

Swiss police say a DNA database, introduced last year to track down criminals, is yielding good results. Genetic profiles of suspects are intended to replace traditional fingerprinting within three years.

Roland Gander of the Federal Office for Police told the Swiss News Agency that the DNA-profile information system had led to 217 arrests since it became active in June last year.

He described the result as "very positive", saying the database had proved effective in 23 per cent of cases, a figure comparable with other European countries which use similar systems.

The database proved particularly effective in tracking down robbery suspects, Gander said.

At the end of July, the database contained 8521 genetic profiles, 7587 of which came from samples taken from the cheeks of criminals. The other 934 profiles were based on samples, such as blood or saliva, collected at crime scenes.

"DNA profiles are replacing fingerprints," said Gander. "They not only help capture criminals, but can also clear suspects".

The Police Office intends to phase out traditional fingerprinting completely by 2004. It says the DNA system leaves no room for error because each individual, except identical twins, has a unique DNA profile.

swissinfo with agencies


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