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DNA screening of taxi drivers in rape case 'welcome as long as a balanced approach is taken'

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has welcomed the garda initiative which aims to solve the 2015 case.

Image: Shutterstock/Daniel2528

THE DUBLIN RAPE CRISIS Centre (DRCC) has welcomed reports of mass DNA screening being used by gardaí in an effort to solve an alleged sexual assault case, but cautioned that a balanced approach must be taken.

The Irish Times reports that 84 taxi drivers in Dublin will be requested to provide DNA samples in an effort to track down the perpetrator of an attack which took place in December 2015.

The paper reports that the search was narrowed down to drivers of a particular make and model of car through analysis of CCTV footage.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, chief executive of the DRCC Noeleen Blackwell said it is crucial that a serious crime like this is investigated fully, adding that it is important for the victim to see that work is being carried out to solve the case.

However she cautioned that nobody’s rights can be improved by infringing on other’s.

“The rights of victims must be properly pursued, and they must be pursued in a legitimate way.”

We’re heartened to see that the case is being investigated but it will be a matter to ensure the rights of all those suspected of the crime are preserved.

Under the legislation being used to authorise the mass DNA screenings, people cannot be compelled to provide a sample.

“We recognise the right of someone not to hand over any evidence,” Blackwell said. “So it’s a question of keeping that balance, and that’s very much a question for how the guards go about it.

They have to take great care that they’re not requiring innocent people who are out earning their living to account for their movements.

The aim of the database, which became active in 2015, is to assist gardaí in tackling crime by being able to link cases and identify suspects. It also means that the Irish justice system will be able to search and be searchable in other national DNA databases.

Not only will it benefit criminal investigations, the database will also be able to identify missing and unknown persons, including unidentified human remains.

If a person is on the sex register, their DNA can be kept indefinitely.

Read: Gangland gardaí investigated over 8,000 lines of inquiry this year >

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Nicky Ryan

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