National DNA Data Bank 2017-2018 Annual Report

Executive Summary

The 2017-2018 National DNA Data Bank (NDDB) Annual Report is a straightforward account of the NDDB's operating processes and accomplishments for the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

When the NDDB was established in 2000, it initially consisted of two DNA Indexes: the Convicted Offender Index, which contains DNA profiles of convicted offenders, and the Crime Scene Index, which contains DNA profiles from crime scenes across Canada.

In March 2018, legislative amendments to the DNA Identification Act allowed for the creation of five new indexes: three humanitarian (the Missing Persons Index, the Human Remains Index, and the Relatives of Missing Persons Index), and two criminal (the Victims Index and the Voluntary Donors Index). These new indices give police, coroners and medical examiners additional tools for solving crimes, identifying serial offenders, and investigating missing persons and unidentified remains.

This year, the Annual Report focusses on the collaboration and partnerships that help make the NDDB a valuable policing tool. We highlight the ways in which the law enforcement community, including police officers, judges, and forensic laboratories, work together to collect samples, identify offenders, support humanitarian investigations and keep communities safe.

If you would like to receive a PDF copy of the full 2017-2018 NDDB Annual Report, please send an email to NDDB-BNDG@rcmp-grc.gc.ca.

Quick facts

Convicted Offender Samples Received in 2017/18Footnote 1 22,267
Increase in the Crime Scene Index in 2017/18 13,863
Offender Hits (Convicted Offender to Crime Scene) in 2017/18 5,298
Forensic Hits (Crime Scene to Crime Scene) in 2017/18 453
Investigations Assisted by the NDDB in 2017-2018 (Offender and Forensic Hits) 5,751
Investigations Assisted by the NDDB since June 30, 2000 (Offender and Forensic Hits) 55,275

United by a common goal

Collaboration is key to the success of the National DNA Data Bank (NDDB), and over the past 18 years, the NDDB has been an important contributor to the administration of justice, thanks to some key partnerships. The value provided by the NDDB in criminal investigations stems directly from the efforts of numerous individuals and agencies working towards a common goal: to protect the public and keep communities safe.

The NDDB provides a critical role in criminal investigations by quickly identifying offenders who commit serious crimes and eliminating innocent people from suspicion. Often, it provides the link across jurisdictions and different police agencies by connecting crimes that have a common suspect.

It takes many dedicated, hard-working professionals to build a case, collect and analyze the evidence, identify a suspect and ensure successful prosecution. Each partner plays an important role in the process, and this year, we're highlighting some of these partners and the work that they do.

Police officers are the people on the front lines, attending crime scenes and collecting evidence. The evidence they collect can help break the case and identify a suspect. They also collect biological samples from offenders once a DNA order has been issued by the courts. The NDDB provides training and support to Canadian police officers and peace officers involved in the collection and submission of biological samples from convicted offenders. The value of DNA evidence to police investigations is enormous, and the NDDB relies on the work that police officers diligently perform.

Crown prosecutors and judges are often the key second step in linking an offender to a crime scene. Crown prosecutors make the application for a DNA order to be issued when an offender is convicted of a secondary designated offence, and judges can issue the DNA order. When an offender is convicted of a primary designated offence, the judge has very little discretion not to issue the DNA order that grants officers the authority to collect biological samples from convicted offenders (see Appendix). In accordance with legislation, the NDDB must review any DNA order issued by the court to ensure that the offence listed on the order is a designated offence. The NDDB has a contact in the Attorney General's office of each province and territory for discussing DNA orders and submissions.

The three public forensic laboratories in Canada (RCMP National Forensic Laboratory Services in Ottawa, Edmonton and Vancouver; the Ontario provincial laboratory, Centre of Forensic Sciences in Toronto and Sault Ste. Marie; and the Quebec provincial laboratory, Laboratoire de sciences judiciaires et de médecine légale in Montréal) process biological samples collected at crime scenes. The DNA profiles are then uploaded to the Crime Scene Index via the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) network, which is the specialized software that allows each of the public forensic laboratories to maintain a local DNA database while using a direct and secure line of communication to send DNA profile information to the NDDB. The NDDB provides the CODIS link to these laboratories through NDDB trained, dedicated CODIS operators at each site. The CODIS network allows the NDDB to connect possible suspects to crime scenes and quickly focus investigations. When such a connection is made, the public forensic laboratory is responsible for transmitting that information to the appropriate investigator(s).

The RCMP's Canadian Criminal Real Time Identification Services (CCRTIS) is the keeper of the documents that link an offender's identity to the unique identifying bar code number associated with each DNA profile. DNA profiles contained within the NDDB are identified only by a unique bar code number, and NDDB staff have no access to personal information regarding offenders. When a crime scene DNA profile matches a convicted offender DNA profile, the NDDB provides the unique bar code number to CCRTIS so that they can release the identity of the offender to the appropriate public forensic laboratory. CCRTIS also certifies the fingerprints provided with a DNA submission to confirm the identity of an offender.

The creation of the National Missing Persons DNA Program (NMPDP) represents an exciting new partnership between the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains (NCMPUR) and the NDDB.

The NMPDP launched on March 6, 2018, bringing with it three new humanitarian DNA indexes:

  • The Missing Persons Index, which contains DNA profiles from missing persons found on personal effects
  • The Relatives of Missing Persons Index, which contains DNA profiles voluntarily provided by relatives of missing persons
  • The Human Remains Index, which contains DNA profiles of unidentified human remains

More than 70,000 Canadians are reported missing every year. While the majority are found within three months (85% are found within seven days), more than 500 new cases remain unresolved each year. Furthermore, approximately 100 sets of unidentified human remains are found every year. The new humanitarian DNA indexes allow DNA profiles developed from biological samples collected and submitted by police, coroners and medical examiners to be compared within the new humanitarian DNA indexes, and for the DNA profiles in the Missing Persons Index and those in the Human Remains Index to be compared to those within the Convicted Offenders and Crime Scene Indexes as well. The DNA profiles in the Relative of Missing Persons Index will only be compared to those in the Missing Persons Index and the Human Remains Index.

Without the contributions of these partners, the NDDB would not be the valuable policing tool it is today.

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