February 25, 2024

Britain debates national DNA database

Government too incompetent to administer it, many feel

taking a DNA swabSenior British police have called for a national DNA database after a vicious
killer was caught and convicted. Policeman Stuart Cundy, who ran the
investigation of the murder of 18-year-old Sally Anne Bowman, said that it would
lead to swift justice. "It is my opinion that a national DNA register – with all
its appropriate safeguards – could have identified Sally Anne’s murderer within
24 hours. Instead it took nearly nine months before Mark Dixie was identified
and almost two and a half years for justice to be done."

The government says that it has no plans at the moment to create a compulsory
database of every man, woman and child in Britain. However, it has the world’s
largest database, 4.5 million profiles, because a sample is taken from everyone
arrested for a recordable criminal offence.

A London Telegraph editorial outlined the arguments for and against the
proposal. It would certainly allow police to catch criminals swiftly and
efficiently. However, the bureaucracy has often showed itself to be incompetent
at safeguarding confidential information. "The issue is not the possibility of a
colossal state conspiracy to turn us all first into suspects, and then into
prisoners, but rather of continual state incompetence… Few of us can have much
confidence that they would all treat the information held on a national DNA
database in accordance with the highest standards of confidentiality and
integrity that would be required to keep the inevitable, inadvertent, abuses to
a minimum level." ~ London Telegraph, Feb 24; BBC, Feb 22