Sweeping DNA Searches By U.K. 'Gene Police'; Will US Follow Suit?
Sweeping new DNA searching techniques are leading authorities in the United Kingdom to violent criminals who have evaded detection for years. Among them: a man who raped a 36-year-old woman on April 26, 1993 and was suspected of three other sexual assaults. Identified as a suspect by “familial” testing, using a sample obtained from his sister after a minor traffic offense, he was talked into giving a cheek swab by police that proved to be a perfect DNA match.
Familial DNA testing is controversial. But it, along with another practice that riles civil libertarians—requiring all arrestees, no matter how minor the offense, how young or whether they are acquitted, to submit DNA samples—will potentially make it much easier for British authorities to track down criminals, as the country’s DNA sample database expands, explains the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.).
Authorities in the U.S. are eying the U.K. experience with interest, and apparently are contemplating a similar approach here: Nearly a dozen states allow DNA samples to be taken from arrestees, and “the Department of Justice separately is finalizing rules permitting genetic profiles to be collected from anyone arrested by federal authorities,” the newspaper reports. “And in March, the FBI will host a symposium to discuss the merits of familial searching. One speaker is Tony Lake, chairman of the U.K.’s national DNA board.”