City, police warn of funding shortfall for DNA analysis

WATCH: The City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Police Department warn they may have to cut back on investigations due to changes in funding of DNA analysis. John Daly reports.

In recent years, DNA analysis has become a cornerstone of police work, helping convict offenders of heinous crimes and helping save innocent parties from jail time.

But now its funding is in question and police in Vancouver and other municipalities may have to cut back on its use.

“Having that central DNA analysis is crucial to the investigations, and making sure the province is funding that is what we want to see,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson.

“We don’t want to see downloaded costs onto cities like Vancouver and communities around the province who are going to have to pay extra because the B.C. government won’t cover their costs.”

Those costs are substantial. For example, Surrey will have to pay more than $400,000 a year while Vancouver will take on an additional $600,000 annually, an amount that Robertson said is “a big chunk of our policing budget that is very difficult for us to absorb locally when it’s been a responsibility of the provincial and federal government.”

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“The province is actually still contributing to the DNA,” said Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton. “In fact, we’re going to contribute $3 million in this fiscal year, $1.3 [million] next year.”

NDP critic Mike Farnworth said that’s not enough.

“This $3 million is phased in over three years and then after that the municipalities are on their own. They pick up the full cost. At the same time the cost to the province is decreasing.”

“DNA is a critical tool for policing in British Columbia,” said Warren Lemcke, VPD deputy chief and President of the B.C. Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police.

“The B.C. Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police is very aware of the funding issues…Our member agencies will continue to use DNA analysis to prevent and solve crime.”

The DNA funding deal is a done deal, according to Anton, who says municipalities are welcome to lobby the federal government for money.

-With files from John Daly