Government DNA Database – Should You Be Concerned?
It is estimated by the Home Office that by 2008 4.2 million DNA samples will be held on a criminal DNA database. The idea that seven percent of the population will have their identity stored on the database has raised concerns about civil liberties. The increase in genetic profiling and DNA testing in recent years has seen the criminal database grow at a rapid pace.
DNA Testing in the Fight Against Crime
Although the majority of DNA samples on the database are those from convicted criminals, there are samples from innocent citizens too. It’s thought that the British DNA database is bigger than any other in the world. DNA testing is increasingly common in police procedures. Storing genetic information of innocent citizens who have never been charged is deeply controversial. Campaigners believe it creates a list of suspects that pre-judges thousands of innocent people.
DNA Database Expands
DNA testing and the DNA database is considered a powerful tool in the fight against crime. However, it is felt that the stealthy growth of the database is unacceptable in an open democracy. Many feel it’s an infringement on privacy. DNA testing can be used to connect suspects to a crime scene. The government has spent hundreds of millions of pounds on expanding the database.
DNA Testing Helps Catch Criminals
According to Home Office figures, 15,700 crimes have been detected thanks to DNA testing. Some believe the huge impact testing can have on catching criminals outweighs the civil liberty issues. Examples have been given highlighting the success of DNA testing in crime, such as the DNA sample taken from a drink driver that matched him to a murder and rape committed 27 years previously.
Could DNA Databases be Discriminatory?
DNA testing in crime is increasingly used to help police track and convict suspects. However using DNA databases in other areas have also been debated, such as in the health service. There are ethical concerns about taking a DNA fingerprint and fears the information it contains could be used in a discriminatory way.
Civil Liberties Abused
A recent news report raised concerns that the Labour government was turning a generation of innocent young people into suspects by including their DNA on the national DNA database, without their consent. It’s estimated 100,000 children are on the database. Civil liberties see it as a sinister ploy, and once more raised concerns that such information could be misused or abused.