Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced a Commission of Inquiry into DNA testing at Queensland’s Forensic and Scientific Services.
It will be conducted by the former President of the Court of Appeal, retired judge Walter Sofronoff.
The Premier said issues raised by Queensland police late last week over the thresholds of DNA testing prompted the need for the Inquiry.
“The people of this state must have confidence in the reliability of these results,” the Premier said.
“Concerns have been raised and this had led to the establishment of the independent review. But the additional information put forward by Queensland police elevate the seriousness of those concerns, prompting the need for the Commission of Inquiry.”
The Terms of Reference of the Inquiry will be determined in consultation with the Commissioner but will include,
– Whether the systems and processes in place for DNA testing conducted by Forensic and Scientific Services are reliable, conducted to an acceptable standard and achieve quality reporting of DNA results and matching;
– Whether testing adheres to contemporary best practice;
– Whether adequate external quality assurance and accreditation is in place; and
– Sample management.
The Commissioner will examine the number of cases and date range necessary to satisfy the terms of reference. The Commission will receive submissions and hold public and private hearings in a manner the Commissioner sees fit.
Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said the Inquiry would ensure the community can have confidence in our forensic services.
“I welcome the fullest and most careful open and independent inquiry,” the Minister said.
Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman said the community is well-served by former Judge Sofronoff.
“DNA is such a vital part of our criminal justice system,” the Attorney-General said.
“I look forward to the results of this inquiry.”