Biometric hub to help bust crime
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Biometric hub to help bust crime

DNA data bill gets cabinet approval

DNA and other biometric information may be collected from inmates and those suspects charged by the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).

The proposal by the Justice Ministry's Central Institute of Forensic Science (CIFS) would be known as a Biometric Hub for Justice.

CIFS director Pol Col Songsak Raksaksakul said the hub is needed as the Genetic Data Bill, which allows for a national DNA centre for the population, has received cabinet approval.

"The proposed centre will collect DNA and other information from all inmates under the supervision of the Justice Ministry as well as from suspects indicted by the DSI," Pol Col Songsak said. "The CIFS itself can't collect information from an accused due to legal and privacy rights."

Pol Col Songsak said the CIFS has held talks with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation about a national DNA database, which the US has agreed to support.

He also said the CIFS gathers DNA information on offenders from 400,000 cases and information on about 10,000 inmates in serious cases every year in Bangkok and surrounding provinces, that are sourced from other state agencies.

"The database does not include offenders in national security cases in the deep South," he said.

Pol Col Songsak said Thailand needs a national DNA database, adding the country has advanced medical technologies that help law enforcement establish individuals' identities.

The time is right for the country to build a central identity information database, he said.

Pol Maj Gen Patchara Sinloyma, former dean of the faculty of forensic science at the Police Cadet Academy, said she agrees with the proposal.

However, she said the database should be supervised by an independent agency, not a state agency like the Royal Thai Police or the Justice Ministry.

Pol Maj Gen Patchara said a DNA database would help law enforcement identify and catch suspects.

Study findings suggest a DNA database can reduce repeat offences by 60%, especially among young drug users, she said.

Assoc Prof Pol Lt Col Kritsanapong Phutrakul, who chairs the Faculty of Criminology and Justice Administration at Rangsit University, said the Biometric Hub for Justice would boost security and make the task of identifying individuals easier.

He said several countries collect biometric data which includes digital fingerprints and iris scan identity confirmation, while in Thailand the authorities rely on identification cards.

The collection of DNA will help establish the identities of dead bodies, stateless people and offenders who do not have proof of identity.

"Several state agencies collect personal information of individuals but their databases aren't linked. A national DNA database or a biometrics database will help prevent repeat offences and track down offenders efficiently," he said, adding the biometric centre can be further developed into the national DNA database.

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