LYON, France – Comparison of records submitted by Austria to INTERPOL's automated database of DNA profiles has yielded 50 matches involving ongoing police investigations in four European countries.
Austria was the first INTERPOL member country to adopt the charter governing the use of the automated database, called the DNA Gateway, in April 2005. All of the countries affected by the Austrian 'hits', person-to-scene, scene-to-scene or person-to-person matches with no previous connections, have been notified.
'Fifty international investigations have been advanced in seconds thanks to the DNA Gateway,' said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble. 'INTERPOL and its member countries have developed the perfect product that satisfies member countries' privacy concerns while remaining an effective investigative tool for linking and exposing international criminals.'
Dr. Herwig Haidinger, Director of Austria's Bundeskriminalamt, said: 'This success demonstrates the importance of international criminal police co-operation, and this has to be intensified and extended in the future.'
Forty-one INTERPOL member countries operate national criminal DNA profile databases, and 33 have submitted more than 55,000 selected records to INTERPOL so far.
The United Kingdom, with the world's largest database of DNA profiles, in November 2005 became the second country to adopt the charter. The UK's DNA profile database contains more than 3.3 million records and has had more than 685,000 hits. At the national level, the UK is expected to start submitting records to the DNA Gateway in early 2006.
INTERPOL member countries can submit a search request to the DNA Gateway directly via INTERPOL's I-24/7 global police communications system. It functions as an autonomous database, meaning it is not linked to INTERPOL's other databases, and submitted profiles do not contain any nominal data on individuals.
Member countries must agree to the charter to access the DNA Gateway, because its automated nature requires more stringent privacy and security safeguards than the previous method of manual comparison.
The charter stipulates that, among other things, member countries retain ownership of their data and control its use and access in accordance with their national laws.
At last month's INTERPOL International DNA Users' Conference for Investigative Officers held at the INTERPOL General Secretariat in Lyon, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agreed to create a conversion feature within its Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) software. The FBI will design this feature to meet INTERPOL's requirements as a step toward fostering and increasing the sharing of DNA profiles among international law enforcement bodies.
This means that the 24 countries currently using CODIS software will be able to submit data to the DNA Gateway more easily in the future.