DNA crackdown

Mike Duffy
DNA crackdown

NSW Police have started tapping more than 2000 former prisoners on the shoulder, asking them for DNA samples.

The move is to help solve past and future crimes but it has come as a surprise to those who have served their time and say they should be left alone.

Philip Waters, 60, served time behind bars 14 years ago after being caught with about three kilograms of marijuana.

He served three months back in the days before authorities routinely collected inmates' DNA.

"I got caught with too much in my car I was guilty, I pleaded guilty I didn't harass the court in any way or waste their time, I did it and that was it,” he said.

He served three months back in the days before authorities routinely collected inmates' DNA.

Now, police across NSW have been ordered to make it a priority to collect samples from former prisoners, like Mr Waters, in the hope of solving crime.

It's been a real push, executive-wide from the NSW Police Force and it has been filtering down to all the local area commands. They have been tasked and deployed with this as a priority to go out and retrieve these samples.

Only those who reappear on police radar are targeted - and only after they are charged.

That happened to Mr Waters but the case against him was unsuccessful, but it still triggered a written demand for his DNA.

Mr Waters added: "I couldn't believe it, I thought it was a joke at first but it didn't take me long to realise it wasn't."

He was asked to submit to a mouth swab or hair sample within seven days and he has agreed to do so.

Police say expanding their DNA database of convicted criminals helps solve cases across the country.

Assistant Commissioner Peter Cotter said: “We need your DNA to put it on the database and see what other offence you might have committed. The underlying spirit is to keep the community safe."

Police first ask for consent, but warn refusal will lead to a court order and possibly, arrest.