Judge: Put Entire UK in DNA Database?
Posted Sep 5, 2007 1:31 PM CST
By Martha Neil
A senior judge in Great Britain has ignited a national DNA debate by suggesting that all citizens—and all visitors to the United Kingdom—should be included in a database of DNA profiles. However, the country's prime minister says no such plan is now on the drawing board.
Including everyone in the genetic profiling program, which can identify suspects through minute quantities of blood, skin and other organic material, would help prevent and solve crimes, contended Lord Justice Sedley, a seasoned appellate judge, in a BBC News interview. Plus, he said, this would be much fairer than the current hit-or-miss system of determining who is and is not profiled, reports the London Times. The country's DNA database currently includes some 4 million profiles, many of them from suspects who were arrested but never convicted.
“Where we are at the moment is indefensible. We have a situation where if you happen to have been in the hands of the police, then your DNA is on permanent record. If you haven’t, it isn’t... that’s broadly the picture,” Sir Stephen Sedley told the BBC today. He also said the nationwide system he suggests would be fairer to minorities because they are disproportionately arrested.
Civil libertarians expressed concern. “A database of every man, woman and child in this country is a chilling proposal, ripe for indignity, error and abuse,” says Shami Chakrabart. She directs Liberty, a human rights organization.
At the same time, others supported the idea. The current system is "untenable," says Keith Jarrett, president of the Black Police Association. He supported the justice's call for a universal DNA database that includes profiles for all citizens, the BBC states.