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Arrested and Tested with DNA Testing


The development of the DNA test in science and society has been revolutionary. The test can help thousands of anxious men receive 100% confirmation of paternity. These tests are evolving to help identify genetic diseases, potentially helping thousands take preventative steps to stop or reduce the risks of genetic cancers developing. It’s even hoped that one day advances in DNA could even eliminate genetic medical disorders. But DNA tests are also used in the world of crime prevention, surveillance and conviction. And, just as in the medical fields, the use of DNA is causing controversy and debate.

DNA Test and Surveillance Britain

Britain has the largest police DNA database, holding DNA samples of those not only convicted of crimes, but those arrested on suspicion of a crime – even if they were later proven innocent. The debate around police collecting DNA samples for a national database was fuelled by a recent news story. Darren Nixon found himself surrounded by armed police after the 28-year old was innocently listening to his MP3 player at a bus stop. He was arrested and subjected to a DNA test. A passer-by had alerted police when she saw him change tracks on his MP3 and panicked, mistaking it for a weapon. The story prompted headlines: ‘Arrested, caged and tested – for using MP3’.

Helping with Arrests

The commuter had been tracked using CCTV and surrounded by a firearms unit but was only released after being locked up, having had his fingerprints, DNA and photo taken. His DNA is now stored on the national database so it can be used in a DNA test in any future crimes he may be linked with. But many see this as an outrage of civil liberties – especially as the man is innocent of any wrong doing in the first place. The arrest for suspicion of carrying a firearm will also go down on his records. Mr Nixon told the press: “I had a completely clean record before this and have always been a law-abiding citizen.”

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