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 Police chief wants DNA record of all Scots

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trinitynscotland
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PostSubject: Police chief wants DNA record of all Scots   Wed Sep 03, 2008 5:57 pm

A leading Scottish police chief was criticised yesterday for recommending that DNA samples be taken from everyone living in Scotland, including newborn babies.

Stephen House, Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police, Scotland's biggest force, said that a DNA database of the entire population would allow detectives to catch more criminals.

Police in Scotland must destroy the DNA of suspects who are not convicted, except some sexual offenders. But despite criticism of the English system, where police can retain samples from innocent people, Mr House said that it should be implemented in Scotland as a first step to larger database.

“The bigger the DNA database, the less chance there is of not being on it,” Mr House, a former assistant commissioner with the Metropolitan Police, said. “Would it deter people? That is less certain, but we would detect more crime.”

Opposition politicians and civil rights groups condemned his idea. Bill Aitken, justice spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “It would make the job of the police much easier and life for the criminals undoubtedly much harder. However, there are important issues attached to the complete registration of DNA, and my view is that this would be a breach of the basic right we all have to privacy.”

Michael Parker, from the NO2ID campaign, said: “The vast majority of people are not criminals, but keeping their DNA on file would make it more likely they would be drawn into criminal investigations by error and increase the number of miscarriage of justice cases.”

John Scott, a human rights lawyer and chairman of the Howard League for Penal Reform in Scotland, said: “We could get a situation where outside bodies like insurance firms manage to get hold of DNA from perfectly innocent people and use it for their own purposes.”

DNA profiling has become an invaluable tool for solving crime. Steve Wright, the Ipswich lorry driver who killed five prostitutes, was identified because his DNA was on file after a conviction for theft in 2003. Mark Dixie, who was sentenced to 34 years for murdering the young model Sally Anne Bowman, was also caught largely through DNA records.

While few dispute the contribution that DNA can make to detecting crime, concern is mounting over the ethics of how samples are obtained and stored.

Last week the UK Goverment's Human Genetics Commission demanded that the records of a million innocent people be destroyed and the responsibility for managing the database be removed from the Home Office and run independently.

Scottish ministers have commissioned their own DNA review, from James Fraser, head of the University of Strathclyde's Centre for Forensic Science, although the SNP is known to be cool on the idea of storing the DNA of innocent people.

Mr House acknowledged that there was deep distrust of expanding the DNA database, but said that it was time for a public debate on the issue.

“We will catch more people if we have the English DNA database,” he said. “In a very high-profile murder investigation - Sally Anne Bowman - the offender was caught in the main through DNA identification. He was arrested as a result of a fight after the murder and the charges were dropped. In Scotland the chances are that the DNA would be destroyed but in England it wasn't, it was put on the database and matched. There are numerous examples of where that has happened.

“An even more complete system is to say we will go the whole hog - forget criminality, we'll take DNA from everyone in the country.

“One of the ways to do it is that you would say all newborn children would have DNA recorded and when you apply for a driver's licence, your DNA would be taken and gradually over the years you would start to develop a

100 per cent database. It would take a long time.”

A spokesman for the Scottish government said that it had received Professor's Fraser report and would publish it, along with its response, in due course.

[source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/scotland/article4474594.ece ]
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pandamack



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PostSubject: Police chief wants DNA record of all Scots   Wed Sep 03, 2008 11:55 pm

This proposal resonates with complete disregard for civil and human rights. A more positive approach would be for the police and prosecuting authorities to focus on addressing the incidences of miscarriages of justice, and prosecuting those responsible for the corruption of justice.
The use of DNA in the investigation of crime can be a vital tool in securing a conviction, but when a corrupt or distorted case is made at the behest of police invetigations ,the subject of such actions may be incarcerated for many years and those , when subsequently found to have been culpable in the misscarriage of justice are rarely , if ever, held to account.
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