Your Genetic Identity in State Database?
Britain has already been accused of being one of the most surveillance-obsessed countries. With record numbers of CCTV cameras, and now a growing DNA database, some civil rights protesters believe our freedoms are being encroached. But on the other side of the debate, a DNA test can help convict criminals guilty of rape and murder. Matching the results from a DNA test to a DNA profile held on the database could help provide conclusive evidence. Already, the database has helped crack crimes that went unsolved for decades.
DNA Test Provokes Controversy
Despite the fear that a DNA database smacks of sinister Big Brother tactics, a poll by the BBC programme Panorama in 2007 revealed that almost two-thirds of British people would approve of a new law requiring all adults to give a sample of their DNA to help with the detection of crime. Sixty-six per cent of those questioned for a Panorama survey said they were in favour of a compulsory national DNA database. The idea that police could take a simple test to connect suspects to a crime scene makes perfect sense for those who have a ‘nothing to hide’ attitude towards the scheme.
Not A Clear Cut Case
Some forensic experts however believe that although a DNA test can be invaluable to determine paternity for example, too much trust is placed on DNA results. When it comes to forensic crime, DNA can become contaminated, and although rare, mistakes can happen. Senior forensic scientist Professor Allan Jamieson, Director of the Forensic Institute said in a press release by Panorama that finding DNA traces can be inconclusive: “We’ve shaken hands. My DNA will be on your hand. You may touch something outside of this room that I have never touched, and therefore my DNA will be somewhere where I have never been.”
DNA Test Fights Crime
However, there are countless reports of murderers and rapists convicted of crimes as a result of DNA found at the crime scene. Police can take DNA samples from thousands of local men to the crime and find a positive match. Some believe taking DNA from birth may become as acceptable as a birth certificate or fingerprints in the future. Although there is a debate around the DNA database, the DNA test is certainly here to stay as scientists keep making advances in biosciences that can change the way we live.
More Reading on The UK Government Database
It is estimated by the Home Office that by 2008 4.2 million DNA samples will be held on a criminal DNA database. This is aimed at fighting crime by:
- Identify offenders fast
- Apprehend offenders earlier
- Convict more offenders
– But should you be concerned about your freedom if your DNA is in a Government Database?