UK Government ‘should follow Scots example’

“Britain’s DNA database needs to be held independently and operated under much tighter safeguards more in accordance with the Scottish model, according to a government-backed inquiry.” (The Herald, 30 July 2008)

The above reccomendeation has come out of the citizens’ inquiry held into the forensic use of DNA and the UK database.  The inquiry was commissioned by the Human Genetics Commission (a body which advises the UK Government).

The inquiry also rejected the plans for DNA profiling everyone in the UK, called for wholescale changes in the procedures relating to DNA evidence and for juries to hear of the limitations of DNA evidence before hearing from expert witnesses.

In Scotland, the authorities are only allowed to store DNA samples on a permanent basis of those convicted of crimes, with the exception of certain suspected sex offenders.  The Police can keep samples of those charged, but not convicted of serious sexual and violent offences.  However, there is a strict time limit as to how long the samples in this category can be kept on record before they have to be destroyed.

DNA is dodgy when we talk about ethics.  Yes, DNA evidence can be very useful in solving crimes and crimes which have remained unsolved for many years have been solved when a smaple hs been aded to the DNA database in an unrelated matter.  However, we must also balance this with the human rights of the citizens of the United Kingdom.  The police, and others, often criticise the Human Rights Act as being a barrier to crime detection and conviction.  I agree that on some occasions it is.  However, the idea of a big DNA databse conatining the DNA of every single person living in the UK does not sit well with me at all(as any regular readers of my blog will know).