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Criminal DNA Samples in Database


Taking a DNA test is often seen as a Godsend for parents desperate to determine paternity, or somebody digging into their ancestral background. A DNA test can be crucial in determining family relations – and even help people who need to prove their identity to claim a birth right for example. But not everybody is happy with DNA. An EU decree from human rights judges could outlaw samples of DNA being kept on the police DNA database from suspects who are later cleared of crimes. Those in favour of the test however are outraged at the idea – The Sun newspaper said such DNA samples have to date helped the UK police force match 114 murders and 116 rape cases. The United Kingdom National DNA Database (NDNAD; officially the UK National Criminal Intelligence DNA Database) was set up in 1995 and holds the DNA profiles of millions of people. For a simple explanation of how the database works, visit Q&A: The national DNA database.

DNA Test Crucial In Fight Against Crime

On one end of the debate, supporters of a national police DNA database believe if you’ve got nothing to hide, there’s no need to protest about having a DNA sample available for a DNA test. If the ruling is passed, up to 200,000 DNA samples will have to be assessed. Meg Hillier, a Home Office minister told the press that a test can be vital in the fight against crime. She was quoted as saying, “Innocent people have nothing to fear from providing a sample. Retaining this evidence is no different to recording other forms of information such as photographs and witness statements.”

Breaching Human Rights?

However although a DNA test can be highly effective, it’s worth remembering that Britain has the world’s biggest DNA database with samples from more than 4.5 million people. Some protesters believe the law that has allowed the police to hold onto DNA from people, even if charges against them are dropped or if they are found to be innocent, should be changed. They fear being on a ‘criminal’ database breaches their human rights.

Controversial Role In Society

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has said that Britain is turning into a ‘surveillance state’ and that the idea of fingerprinting children at schools is ‘scandalous’. It’s clear the DNA test has a crucial role to play in society, but the fact that over a million innocent people are included on the DNA database is a step too far for Clegg. He said in the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s questions, “…It is this government that has turned the British public into the most spied upon on the planet – 1,000 surveillance requests every day, one million innocent people on the DNA database and 5,000 schools now fingerprinting our children.”

Protecting liberty and encroaching on liberty clearly raises some difficult questions. So in terms of the Government DNA Database – Should You Be Concerned?

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