AFP DNA Program Helps Resolve 19 Missing Persons Cases,

Australia, Police

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The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has announced that its National DNA Program for Unidentified and Missing Persons has successfully resolved 19 missing persons cases since its inception in 2020. The program, led by the AFP in collaboration with state and territory police, coronial and forensic agencies, aims to tackle cold cases of unidentified and missing persons.

Over the course of four years, forensic testing was conducted on 99 unidentified remains, which included remains discovered by law enforcement, those held by coroners, and those provided by the public. Of these cases, more than 50 were resolved either through identification or determination that they were over 100 years old.

Significantly, the program has linked 21 unidentified human remains cases to 19 long-term missing persons’ cases, providing closure to families who now definitively know the fate of their loved ones. Out of the 19 long-term missing persons, three were female and 16 were male. While the outcome still brings grief to families, it eliminates the uncertainty that weighs heavily on them.

It is worth noting that 33 cases were determined to be medical anatomical specimens, historical or ancestral remains, or not human remains, resulting in a total of 54 closed cases. The unidentified remains originated from various jurisdictions across Australia, including the Royal Australian Navy.

The National DNA Program, funded by confiscated proceeds of crime, is an Australian-first initiative that strengthens collaboration among law enforcement and forensic agencies. It employs advanced forensic techniques such as DNA extraction, forensic anthropology, radiocarbon dating, craniofacial reconstruction, and isotope analysis to provide answers to the community.

Looking ahead, the AFP’s Forensic Command plans to consolidate the National Missing Person Coordination Centre (NMPCC) into their Command in mid-2024. This move aims to enhance the capabilities of the program, including disaster victim identification, and establish a single point of entry for complex or long-term missing persons cases.

Commander Joanne Cameron, AFP Forensics, expressed the agency’s commitment to supporting the National DNA Program and exploring how advanced technology can be utilized to solve violent crimes in Australia. With world-leading forensics capabilities, the AFP is dedicated to providing answers to the families of missing persons and strengthening forensic intelligence in the country.

For more information on the National DNA Program for Unidentified and Missing Persons, contact the National Missing Persons Coordination Centre via email at missing@afp.gov.au or phone at 1800 000 634.

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