Police face new claims of intimidation over DNA

By Derek Cheng

Police have been accused of pressuring people to consent to DNA specimens. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Police have been accused of pressuring people to consent to DNA specimens. Photo / Brett Phibbs

More allegations have emerged of the use of police intimidation to obtain voluntary DNA samples, involving a Pacific Island woman and a Pakeha high school student.

Both people are considering a complaint with the Independent Police Conduct Authority. They follow statements this week from Maori Party MP Hone Harawira, who attacked police for allegedly targeting Maori youths for DNA profiling.

Mr Harawira has been talking to six or seven families and youths about laying complaints with the Independent Police Conduct Authority, involving 15- to 17-year-olds being pressured into giving a DNA sample.

Yesterday a 24-year-old Pacific Island woman, who did not want to be named, told the Herald she had been pressured into giving a sample at Auckland Central police station earlier this month.

She was driving in Grey Lynn without a licence and was stopped by police, and then taken to the station.

"An officer wanted me to give a DNA sample. I told him I didn't want to do it, but he told me if I wanted to go home quickly, then I would have to give the DNA," she said. "He said all the officers were doing it and were trying to get everyone to do it in case I was raped or murdered, so they could identify my body. I felt violated and like I had no rights, like I was forced to do it and they could have done anything to me if I didn't do it."

The woman, who is facing a charge for driving while forbidden, said she did not remember the names of the officers, but she would discuss laying a complaint with her lawyer.

Merilyn McAuslin told the Herald her son was under duress when he gave a DNA sample in 2005, when he was 17 and in high school.

He was out with friends, one of whom graffitied a building, and their car number plate was reported.

When he went to the Newmarket police station with his mother, he was intimidated by an officer to identify the person who had done the graffiti.

He started to have a panic attack and was taken outside for some air and water. Mrs McAuslin said within a couple of minutes, a female police officer said a driving charge against her son would be dropped if he gave a DNA sample. "She got the DNA in a real moment of weakness for us."

She would also consider a complaint to the IPCA and would tell her son to write to the Police Commissioner to have his DNA profile removed from the database.

Mr Harawira told the House yesterday of another allegation of police abuse, quoting an internet entry: "I am an educated European female who has never been convicted, or even suspected, of an offence but was subjected to similar, bully-style treatment and incorrect information with regard to provision of a DNA sample."

- NZ Herald

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