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back to article Citizens's panel demands policing for DNA database

A "Citizens' Inquiry" into the Forensic Use of DNA and National DNA Database is calling for proper public debate into the issues raised by the database, education of the public about their rights and an independent body to oversee the development of the database. The Citizens' Inquiry was made up of 30 people drafted in to help …

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A minority supported DNA testing every child at birth.

I know I shouldn't be shocked but I am. What kind of fool would want this ?? There are no words to full describe what I feel. The only thing I can realy express is my wish that such people never acquires a potion of power.

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Anonymous Coward

I believe...

...the DNA database should f*ck off.

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Boffin

Everybody is a terrorist now

We can be pretty sure that this report will be ignored by the government. Can't have all those potential criminals telling MPs what they should think.

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Flame

Grrr

I have just heard a Certifiable Twat on the wireless trot out the "If you've done nothing wrong you've got nothing to fear" argument. This information is in the hands of the Gubbinsment, whose record on data security speaks for itself, and the Polis, whose record on nicking / shooting the innocent also speaks for itself.

(Fumes)

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Anonymous Coward

Are these people stupid or something ?

The DNA DB does good things. They keep the records ini case you commit a crime later. Dont commit a crime dont worry about your entry.

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Anonymous Coward

Faux Panels or Focus Groups?

Remember the Edinburgh 'consultation' on ID cards where No2ID people were arrested for trying to attend? They have a history of faux consultations dressed up as focus groups.

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2008/07/402542.html

"On Monday (30th June) nine NO2ID campaigners were arrested after they staged a peaceful protest at an invitation only Home Office so-called "public consultation". NO2ID's protest was an entirely peaceful and lawful attempt to publicise the Home Office's shifty semi-secret proceedings that had been pre-arranged with STV news."

No2ID were protesting the fact that they couldn't get a speaker into the consultation, only pro-ID people were chosen for this consultation.

It's like we're all living V for Vendetta as a documentary. The sooner the Labour party knifes Sutler and has an *election* for leader the better. What the hell were you guys thinking, letting an unpopular leader choose his successor? What did you expect to happen? A *change* of direction? *Less* spin?

Look at Harman and the changes to make remove the premeditated murder charge if the murderer says they were 'afraid'.... apparently so afraid that they stuck around and planned a murder? Every day brings some new level of incompetence, each day they get more unelectable. So just do your job and quick change of leaders, 2 years to turn it around, then an election.

/rant

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Oh dear, not another one

> Dont commit a crime dont worry about your entry.

And who exactly defines what constitutes a crime these days? Having information that the Powers That Be don't want you to have isn't a crime, is a basic human right after all... oh noes, it *is* a crime, try looking here -> http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/18/samina_malik_appeal . Twit...

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Anonymous Coward

Abuse?

Whilst I generally dislike any interference from government in anything, a complete DNA database (everyone + visitors) would make it seriously challenging to commit any crime at all.

So, how will it get abused that means we don't want it?

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Paris Hilton

@AC

>Are these people stupid or something ?

>The DNA DB does good things. They keep the records ini case you commit a crime later. Dont commit a crime dont worry about your entry.

Good grief, the morons are out in force today aren't they?

Please, go get some coffee, and then spend a few minutes doing some basic research (e.g. type "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" into any popular search enging), before you try herding me into your dictators wet dream totalitarian state.

By all means, you can choose to throw away your freedom, liberty and life, but please don't try to inflict it on me.

Paris - because she's dumb enough to agree with the AC who posted that

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Flame

Public Data

So we should start from the assumption that any data held in a central gummint sponsored database *will* leak: there is no evidence that we can safely assume that it won't.

So whose DNA profiles do we want to be made public? Just convicted ciminals? Or convictees *and* chargees? Anybody who's ever been nicked, whether rightly or wrongly?

Here's a suggestion: how about nobody? Why don't we go back to taking DNA samples from suspects for a specific crime, checking for a match and then destroying them?

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Flame

I think people should do some reading

Firstly, your 'DNA' isn't on record, it's a STR+ profile, which only records certain genetic markers which are unique to each individual (identical twins aside). The information in the database can never be used to find out other genetic information about an individual, such as susceptibility to cancer, etc.

I'd just like to say, I'm no Labour fanboy, but at least I don't just spout bandwagon phrases like 'Gubbinsment' and expect to be taken seriously. I'm not too comfortable with my profile being on record, solely sue to the incompetence of the Home Office, and not based on the principle of an incredibly helpful public resource to help catch rapists, murderers and other dangerous criminals. Not that they'll stay in prison for long.

www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/POSTpn258.pdf

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Dead Vulture

Time to leave

The Nazis were criticised (rightly) for branding numbers onto prisoners yet here we are doing the same thing with DNA. Branded for life, always a suspect in the police's eyes. What a screwed up country where people, intelligent people, are happy with this.

Anyway, crims aren't daft. Already there is evience of deliberate contamination of crime scenes to confuse the issue so where's the benefit once this becomes more widespread?

I like living here, in the country in which I was born but I don't really want to live here as a cradle-to-grave suspect.

The dead penguin as a symbol for the death of liberty

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Anonymous Coward

Who are these citizens?

So they asked 30 people from Birmingham and Glasgow. How were the 30 selected? Why Brum and Glesca? Does somebody think such a collection of people will provide a realistic idea of what the majority of citizens think about this / these DNA database(s)?

This smacks of an attempt at a mock consultation. Come on guys, you need to select a randomised, stratified, representative sample of at least 1,000 inhabitants of the UK - England, Scotland, Wales and N Ireland - to get a decent idea of what the population thinks. Anything less shows they don't really want to know.

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Media

I heard that Mr Larrington. I really like how they ask the opinion of someone who had their daughter murdered by someone who was caught via DNA. Oh yes, you'll get a impartial view there. Surprise surprise, he though DNA was a great idea, get a sample from everyone he said.

I think Mitchell and Webb did a sketch about it:

Presenter: 'And with news of the horrific train crash fresh in our mind we turn to Percy Smith. Percy your wife was killed in similar circumstances, what do you think can be done to make the railways safer?'

Percy Smith: 'Why are you asking me. I know nothing about rail safety and my wife was killed by a train, I'm not going to give an objective opinion am I?'

and so on.

Anyway, (mostly) well done citizens panel.

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Anonymous Coward

Are Anonoymous cowards stupid or something?

@ 0803...

So the fellow who got his life turned upside down because the police found his DNA in a vandalised pillar box that *he'd posted a letter in*, him having never been charged with a previous crime doesn't count.

It's a long established principle of justice in this country that it is better that 10 guilty go free than one innocent be deprived of their liberty. I feel that's a principle worth preserving. It seems that the Government do not.

As the DNA database grows, so the number of false positives (by innocent cross-contamination, similar genetic profiles or by deliberate obfuscation) will increase. And it won't be a linear function either.

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Anonymous Coward

OK. I don't want my council getting to see it, but...

I see nothing wrong with the DNA database.

If everyone in the country was on it, there would be no...

Serial rapists - they'd be identified at the first attack.

Escape for pikeys - they couldn't claim they weren't the same person as nicked <insert anything you like here> from the other end of the country.

Leftie apologists decrying that genetics doesn't dictate your, intelligence, strength, generosity, kindness.

Admittedly there are better solutions. For pikeys for instance we could just plough them all into the sea, but, I see no problem for serial rapists.

The other advantage of DNA, is is stops plod from getting the wrong bloke because they don't like the look of him. I'm supremely law abiding these days, but wasn't necessarily always predisposed to peace and harmony & I look like I've been through the mangle, so DNA would help find me innocent - (or guilty, depending on what it was, your honour.)

Also, just look at Milly Dowler, wasn't it was some nutter in Broadmoor, the pressure on Plod to fit some poor bugger up must have been enormous? And what about Colin Firth or whatever his name was on Wimbledon Common, everyone has to admit he did look a bit dodgy, but DNA rules him out.

Finally, Judge Giant's illegitimate child. How would he ever have been conscripted into the Justice department if he was just some ordinary bastard Mega City one kid?

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Re:Are these people stupid or something ?

Why do the "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" brigade always post as AC? Obviously they *do* have something to hide *or* something to fear.

Wake up and smell the coffee! The DNA database is *not* infallible. There can, and have been, false positives. Even though the data on the database should be of good quality, the DNA recovered from the crime scene may not be, and may match with several people on the *current* database, let alone a full national one.

There is also the possibility of your DNA being at a crime scene by accident, particularly if it was a public place, or even being planted deliberately. This becomes an even bigger problem if the real perpetrator of the crime takes (really quite simple) steps to ensure his DNA is not left behind (which he will be more likely to do if he knows he is on the DNA database). You will have the situation where there may be several DNA profiles at a crime scene, none of them belonging to the real criminal. All of those people will have to be "eliminated from enquiries". If the mindset of the investigating officers, CPS and Jury are of the typical "DNA is infallible" mindset, then one of those people could well end up being convicted of a crime merely because his DNA was present, he didn't have an alibi and the real criminal took steps *not* to leave his DNA behind.

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Coat

I, for one, welcome our NuLabour overlords.

And remember, you are all guilty until proven otherwise.

Mine is the one with the ... erm ... biometric passport in it. Shit, we're fucked...

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Death does not stop them

“some even believed they should be kept up to five years after death in case a crime comes to light.”

In the vast majority of cases, they are kept after death. DNA records and samples are kept until a person’s 100th birthday, whether they are dead or alive. This allows the police to conduct familial searches using the records of dead relatives.

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Anonymous Coward

Can MrPark take the DNA?

Who needs leaks? The data is taken for one purpose (crime prevention) then used for another (handed out to private companies for their use). And soon no doubt it will be repurposed from those private companies into other private companies for other purposes, that were also not agreed when the data was handed over.

Mission creep, everywhere, mission creep. Leak? They *sell* the data!

So suppose I own a supermarket car park, and I take DNA samples from the handles of cars. I can then ask the DVLA for the home details of the owner, and match it to their DNA. Even query the DNA database to see if the police have taken their sample and link it to the home address I got from the DVLA.

Joined up stupidity.

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Anonymous Coward

DNA Evidence

DNA evidence used as a primary source is retarded. It should only ever be allowed as supportive/secondary evidence. For several reasons,

DNA can easily be planted at a site.

DNA can easily be at a site completly legitmately.

DNA markers used do not provide a 100% match, the more people in a database the greater chance of incorrect readings.

DNA is mearly corobarative and without any other evidence it isn't worth shit.

And just posting Anon doesn't make you anon, anon is about attitude.

Anonymous Superhero

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Public debate or public involvement?

DNA profiling does not provide a silver bullet solution, except perhaps with the less able members of the underclass which it helps to enforce who don't learn ways to circumvent it when they go on their government training course.

For example, in serious crimes against the person such as rape and murder, in which its use as a deterrent has been acclaimed, the effect is likely to be that perpetrators will dispose of victims' bodies more carefully. Those who commit such crimes who are insane apparently don't think they will get caught in any event.

What is so unfortunate about the huge promotion of the DNA database is that an increasingly large proportion of the public will, as comments on El Reg show, become disinclined to co-operate with police enquiries or volunteer information about crimes. And public co-operation is the major weapon in the fight against crime.

As Gandhi observed when he said that 'an eye for an eye leads to a country of blind men', retributive justice plus deterrence doesn't afford a solution. A real solution comes about only when people choose not to commit crimes because this isn't the best thing to do, rather than merely because they fear getting caught. Perhaps rather than holding debates about the usefulness of totalitarian measures it might be more useful to consider ways in which the wider public might to be engaged in this difficult task..

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Paris Hilton

@Eponymous Cowherd

>There is also the possibility of your DNA being at a crime scene by accident, particularly if it was a public place, or even being planted deliberately.

Dead right. If we keep a DNA database on everyone, it will rapidly become utterly useless and downright dangerous to the innocent unless we take draconian steps to prevent widespread DNA poisoning of crime scenes.

As a random example - I don't like the idea of a complete ban on all forms of hoover, sellotape, glue, clingfilm or anything else that can be used to lift DNA riddled dust from a public train or bus seat.

Paris because she has "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" (please guys, if you think that phrase justifies the database, google it and read carefully - you will change your mind)

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Paris Hilton

Had enough.

My flight to New Zealand is booked for 3rd October. Good luck with the whole 'prison island' project. So long suckers.

Paris because she can sample my DNA anytime.

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Stop

If you have nothing to hide...

... you still have plenty to worry about...

News from 2002:

"Police in Thailand hunting the killer of a backpacker from mid Wales say two transvestites have admitted planting false DNA at the murder scene."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/1954897.stm

News from 2008:

"Jacques allegedly took steps before Bennett's abduction to lure police into thinking that she had gone to meet someone she had been corresponding with online. And before Bennett's disappearance, Jacques instructed his 14-year-old female accomplice to collect semen from her boyfriend, which was later planted near Bennett's torn underwear."

http://abcnews.go.com/US/Story?id=5300619&page=1

These are just a couple of the examples of criminals already attempting to subvert DNA testing to cover up their crimes.

Unfortunately some people tend to watch TV shows like CSI and think that DNA is a "magic wand" that will catch the crook before the end of the episode, so it's *got* to be a good thing and the more DNA we have on record the better...

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Anonymous Coward

Nothing to hide brigade

Perhaps those so keen on these universal databases should take a look at who the government is agreeing to share this stuff with - including various foreign governments "in the interests of anti-terrorism" (or any other reason du jour).

Now consider that these governments may take a different view to your activities - perhaps you have protested about the way that government treats its citizens. Now it has a very easy way of detecting you or tracing members of your family (who might live in their state).

Even in this country look at the way 'universal powers' granted under anti-terror laws are already being abused; the recent case of the couple coming through the tunnel with their child only being revealed because the officer failed to follow the 'unwritten rules' on how not to get caught out misusing your powers.

Just how do people arrive at the conclusion that 'you have nothing to fear' (whether they have anything to hide or not). Misuse of power has happened in the past and continues to happen. It is sometimes used to intimidate people and prevent them doing what they are entitled to do (like take photographs in public places).

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Re:Are these people stupid or something ?

@ Eponymous Cowherd

The method of collecting DNA may be fallible, but DNA is infallible (again, identical twins aside, or mitochondrial DNA). A DNA profile is not the be-all and end-all of a criminal investigation, and never has been - there's context with every crime. If there was a crime at my place of work and my DNA was on the door handle, I would be a suspect, but I have more than enough grounds to say that I was supposed to be there. They aren't going to put me away because DNA recovered at the scene matches the markers stored in my profile. I can be exonerated from the investigation much quicker with my profile on a database. DNA evidence is meant to support other evidence - it isn't proof of guilt by itself.

My point has been proven - if you don't know how DNA profiling works, don't comment. Or maybe watch some CSI :)

@ Dunstan Vavasour

How about cases where there are no viable suspects? Many rape cases go unsolved because the victim is too traumatised to give evidence or submit to a medical exam. A quick scan of DNA recovered from the victim can be quickly matched to the database. This may also help reduce false allegations of rape.

Lastly, even if there was a "leak", the STR+ profiles are pretty much useless by themselves. You need an exemplar sample of DNA to compare it to.

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Unhappy

A minority supported DNA testing every child at birth.

These people's votes count as much as yours.

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Anonymous Coward

@grumpy

>>Dont commit a crime dont worry about your entry.

>And who exactly defines what constitutes a crime these days?

That would be parliament.

>samina_malik_appeal . Twit..

So, how did the DNA database cause her a problem then?

Was she arrested because she was on it?

Was she convicted because she was on it?

Was she freed on appeal because of it?

Nah. Her case is totally irrelevant to this isn't it?

How about looking up Mark Dixie and Steve Wright instead?

Twit.

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DNA

It's been said elsewhere, but it's not actually the complete double-helix that is being stored - the scale of the database for doing *that* would be astronomical.

What you get is a DNA profile, DNA is split by putting it in some solution (no idea what, just aware of what happens) and you get that lovely bar-code looking thing on transparencies.

As such, there will at any time be around 20 people with the same DNA profile as you, which within a single country, where most breeding happensm there will be 20 with the same profile.

So, you have a database with everyone on it, you have a crime scene and you have your 20 suspects thanks to the database.

Can you give a viable alibi for every single day of the year, forever ?? Remembering that "I was alone at home reading" isn't viable, as it's no verifiable.

Now, do you really believe that you have nothing to fear from a national DNA database ??

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Happy

@Robert Davey

Thank goodness for someone who appears to know what they're talking about. I would be keen to learn more about this subject - while spouting off as an armchair specialist makes me feel better, there is a deeper insight to be gained from a closer understanding. Do I take it that a STR+ profile is some sort of a "digest"?

Do you have some sort of a reading/reference list which could be followed by a layman in biochemistry?

As for the example of a rape case which you suggest, the end doesn't justify the means: I'd like to think I would still feel this way even if I were the rape victim. We already detect plenty of crimes, the shortfall is in (a) ensuring successful prosecutions of known offenders (DNA will help here without a database), and (b) preventing reoffending, whether through *effective* rehabilitation or long term imprisonment.

Thank you for your contributions. Oh, and fair point about "gummint" - I guess I wasn't expecting to be taken seriously, but I would like to be now.

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Stop

And when your details are linked to the wrong DNA sample

what then Nothing to Fear, Nothing To Hide peeps? Prove yourself innocent, because until you do you are certainly guilty in the eyes of the db.

How much funding will it take to go through the legal system to sort that out?

How will your employer view you after being a suspect in a rape case; guilty or innocent, mud sticks.

In the end it is all data and data entered by people.

To err is human.

Reduce the risk of garbage data by reducing the data capture - let convicted criminals go on the db. FULL STOP.

Nothing to Fear, Nothing to Hide - what a bunch of ignorant idiots.

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@Robert Davey

> They aren't going to put me away because DNA recovered at the scene matches the markers stored in my profile. I can be exonerated from the investigation much quicker with my profile on a database

"Can" does not imply "must". Your conviction in the faith of DNA rests on pious hope. Good luck with it.

> Many rape cases go unsolved because the victim is too traumatised to give evidence or submit to a medical exam. A quick scan of DNA recovered from the victim can be quickly matched to the database. This may also help reduce false allegations of rape.

How can "a quick scan" help if the (alleged) victim is "too traumatised to... submit to a medical scan"? Either there is evidence or there is not. What possible bearing can a DNA test have on false allegations of rape where the issue is not the act but the consent, as is far more frequently the case?

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“some even believed they should be kept up to five years after death in case a crime comes to light.”

Then they can dig the corpse up, put it on trial, and have it rot away in a gaol afterwards. As an example to the others. Justice, retribution, deterrence, and satisfaction all rolled into one - without unnecessary cruelty, and only in the grossest possible taste.

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Anonymous Coward

@EvilGav

Is this the fear? That innocent people will get locked up because of a DNA cock up?

That's more of a risk now where DNA is looked on as magical because it's so rarely used.

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THUNK! THUNK! THUNK!

<quote>

'some even believed they should be kept up to five years after death in case a crime comes to light.'

</quote>

'And in the case of the Crown versus the exhumed corpse of Geraldo von Bubblejet, the defendant was once again warned that refusing to enter a plea may prove prejudicial to his defence.'

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Boffin

Stuff

@Dunstan Vavasour

Info on *goddamnit* Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genetic_fingerprinting#STR_analysis. Most other papers will be more scientific I guess, but there's a load of info after a quick internet search.

True, if everyone knows their DNA profile is on a database, they'd be more inclined not to reoffend I'm sure, but of course people will continue to offend no matter what. That's a matter for the justice system and harsher penalties. The profile database is a evidential tool, not a jury.

@EvilGav

20 people with the same profile?! Rubbish. An STR+ profile () of just 3 independent loci gives you roughly 10^17 permutations. CODIS (the US DNA database) uses 13 independent loci. The probability of a false positive is as close to nil as makes no odds to your human sample. Admittedly, incomplete samples (those DNA evidential samples with missing markers) would not be submitted into the database, and would be less admissible in court as collected evidence (there being a chance that the DNA could match to maybe a handful of other people in the database).

"Can you give a viable alibi for every single day of the year, forever"

No, but as I said before, DNA won't put you away by itself. If you have no alibi, DNA profile database or not, then you are a suspect and should be.

@ all those that harp on about "it'll just make criminals cleverer on how they clean up a crime scene" - murders are opportunist (perpetrator far less likely to clean up a scene) or premeditating (thought long and hard about killing someone and probably know them, and are probably cleverer than your average burglar). In either case, if DNA isn't forthcoming, it's back to good ol' fashioned police work, which makes concerns about a DNA database moot anyway.

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@ Dunstan Vavasour @ Ferry Boat

"Here's a suggestion: how about nobody? Why don't we go back to taking DNA samples from suspects for a specific crime, checking for a match and then destroying them? ... I'd like to think I would still feel this way even if I were the rape victim."

"I heard that Mr Larrington. I really like how they ask the opinion of someone who had their daughter murdered by someone who was caught via DNA."

I'm not a victim, but my partner was. DNA profiling won't bring her back even were it to identify a perpetrator.with acceptable certainty. Deterrence alone does not solve the problem that crime presents. For the record and for what it's worth, my best appraisal after several years of cogitation is that the DNA database actually makes matters worse.

See also:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2006/01/05/dna_database_oversold/

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Unhappy

Citizens Panel

So how was this so called Citizens Panel chosen? Were they carefully nominated to attend their secretive meetings?

Perhaps they used the same method as used for the new members of the House of Lords. How much did they give to the appropriate political party to join?

They certainly don't speak on my behalf or anyone I know, as innocent people are added to the DNA Database every day.

As for conviction on DNA alone, 'I wasn't there at the time, My Lord', 'but your alibi of watching TV at home is uncorroborated, your DNA (from a legitimate visit several days prior to the offence) was found'. Guilty as charged!

And of course, they never, never clone number plates.

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Alert

@Luther Blissett

"Your conviction in the faith of DNA rests on pious hope. Good luck with it."

Yes it rests on DNA, not some badly-managed-but-incredibly-useful database run by bureaucrats. I wish people would stop thinking DNA is to blame. DNA has solved and will continue to solve hundreds (if not more) of cases a year. The database WILL help this, whether you like it or not. Whether the information held in the database will remain the property of our fantastic terrorist-fighting government, or indeed whether it will be used to bias cases where a jury should know better, is yet to be seen. This isn't the fault of the database, but the application.

"What possible bearing can a DNA test have on false allegations of rape where the issue is not the act but the consent, as is far more frequently the case?"

Obviously. I wasn't saying that DNA magically provides consensual evidence.

"Then they can dig the corpse up, put it on trial, and have it rot away in a gaol afterwards."

Or possibly bring closure to the surviving family of a murder victim?

@Simon.W

"How will your employer view you after being a suspect in a rape case; guilty or innocent, mud sticks."

That's a problem with attitude and employment discrimination law, not the database.

I really fail to see how 13 bits of my DNA (non-coding I hasten to add) constitutes a breach of privacy, when those markers tell people absolutely NOTHING about me whatsoever. You might as well say that the DVLA having my photo is a breach of privacy, and is probably moreso than faceless DNA markers. As long as the scheme destroys full DNA samples of innocent people, then I see no problem.

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@Robert Davey

http://www.biotechnologyonline.gov.au/human/dnaforensic.cfm

"there is only a one in a million chance of 2 people . . . "

So, 6,500 people in the world today have the same DNA profile as me. Given that those people are most likely to be part of my family, that means the odds of lots of people in a single country having the same profile being very high.

Even if that one in a million comment is throw-away, even if it's actually on in a billion, that still means that 6 or 7 people, who more than likely live in the same country as me, have the same profile.

The figure of 20 comes from a book that I don't hav with me, btu i'll look it out when I get hiome and post a reference.

The problem is, a DNA profile *is* fallible, which is why it should be used as an addition too and not the beginning of an investigation. Creating a DNA database will make people lazy and it will become the first place to look, not the last.

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Dan
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Nothing to hide, nothing to fear...

...assumes that, conversely, only those up to no good should value privacy and personal liberty. Do any of you *actually* believe that? If so, why have you got a lock on the bathroom door? Why do you not show anyone and everyone all your old lover letters? Why have you got curtains?

It also assumes that everyone else defines wrongdoings in the same way that you do. You need only look at religion to find countless examples of people insisting that others should be persecuted/executed simply for not believing in the same deity.

As for the government's record on data handling, I don't even know where to start...

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Anonymous Coward

Hun

Dumb ass yank here ,but I thought Oz was the prison colony . Looks on map. Hey why do the British Isle have razor wire around them ???

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Stop

A view from the real world

Just to muck in with my 2 pence worth, why should I, as an innocent person, have my DNA submitted to a database. Why does the state presume that I'm going to commit a crime in the future? And can all those people who say it's going to solve rape cases get a clue please. My girlfriend was raped, submitted to a DNA test and everything, and the scumbag piece of $hit just claimed that she consented, so the police didn't bother prosecuting. DNA won't get round the consent issue so why bother tarring everyone with the "you might be a criminal" brush if they can't even use it to convict *real* criminals. By all means if people have been found guilty keep the DNA. Approx 90% of crimes are committed by a prior offender so it'll be a good deterrant but don't put innocent people on the database. And if someone goes in to *voluntarily* submit DNA don't keep that, they've helped the police with their inquiries and their DNA gets kept, same as a criminal? What sort of message does that send out? "Thanks for proving that you didn't commit *this* crime, we'll hold on to this just in case" would anyone who's committed a crime be so stupid as to give DNA, even if they hadn't committed the crime that was being investigated?

And just in case any trolls try and flame me, my girlfriend is also dead against a DNA database. Pretty understandable considering how it let her down.

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Anonymous Coward

@David

>Pretty understandable considering how it let her down.

Err... it didn't, the police and an unfortunately wise criminal did.

Incidentally the CPS prosecute not the police, it's supposedly their policy to tend towards prosecution in serious offences, so it looks like the CPS messed up as well.

Besides, why be against it? What problems will it cause?

So far there's a vague 'innocent people might get accused' thing but nothing very concrete. The average chav launching a brick off a motorway bridge and killing someone might get caught (look that one up as well).

@EvilGav

Obviously the broader the net the more easily questioned the evidence is. In many stranger rape cases the police have DNA tested all the men in a large area, given that most families stay in an area for generations you might well get caught in that dragnet while the true perp gets away. Then you have a much more challenging job of proving your innocence, since you don't have the 20 other people match as well excuse.

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Flame

@Robert Davey

<quote>@Simon.W

"How will your employer view you after being a suspect in a rape case; guilty or innocent, mud sticks."

That's a problem with attitude and employment discrimination law, not the database.</quote>

Yeah - but you've missed the point totally - you'll only be in a compromised position because of the db.

What are you trying to say? That no-one who has been falsely accused of something has ever lost their job or even ability to work in their preferred profession? You are living in cloud cuckoo land. Might as well bring back hanging as the db is so infallible. Twat

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Happy

@Grrr

"Certifiable Twat" - there are a majority of these in media and government could you like be more specific.

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Anonymous Coward

Unicorns killed President Kennedy!

"The probability of a false positive is as close to nil as makes no odds to your human sample. "

Nah,

it's something like 1 in 113 billion against an individual, so 153 people in 6 million have duplicate entries, a lot more in 60 million (much much higher than x10), a heck of a lot more in 6 billion people, but then we would only have our little snapshot of those samples.

http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/07/20/0244237

Still pretty good right? You have a DNA match it's still no worse than say 1000 in 60 million, or 1 in 60000 worst case. All pretty good, and most likely much better, more like 1 in 113 billion if you start with the suspect and then match the DNA, rather than starting with the DNA.

So you've established 'opportunity' because the DNA matches, to within 1 in 60000 or better. Except you haven't, you've established the person was there before during or after which is not opportunity. Since DNA matches pretty well after say 2 months (they survive far better than fingerprints) and say 1000 people are a crime scene in those 2 months, you've got 1 in 6000 or better.

Never mind, it's still pretty good. 1 in 6000.

Now all we need is motive, dig a database till you find some motive, here we are, person X said he hates people who think Y, and person Y once said he thinks Y. Good enough. If I started with the person, then that would likely be a probability of 1 in 100 billion! However I didn't I started saying 'can we prosecute this person' and then found something to prosecute with.

Did unicorns kill President Kennedy?

The search [unicorns kill President Kennedy] has 26700 matches, those murderous unicorns, why? What did Kennedy ever do to you?

You see it all changes when we start with our method to obtain the suspects list. My bet is that the unicorns did it. We need a database of Unicorn DNA quickly!

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@David Pollard

What I really don't like is the endless sensationalism in the media, even the Today Programme. I'd like to see rational argument from both sides. We do need to hear about how crime affects victims and their families but to turn to them as some kind of expert on 'what should be done' is wrong. They have an opinion but it might not be the most rational. To head a news item with their opinion does not help further the rational debate, in fact it often lends credence to the extreme views.

There is a huge problem with the public perception of DNA as evidence and of forensic science in general. There is also a problem in that expert witnesses are not impartial enough. They work closely with the police and often seem to be part of the same team. They should not be. They should be impartial.

I think you should have your DNA removed from the database if you are not convicted. I'm not sure about when you've paid your debt to society. Should it be removed then? My civil liberties demon says 'yes', but I need to think more about it.

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Anonymous Coward

Hmm I thnk I see a business opportunity here

Collecting random DNA material from a few busy airports and selling it over the internet.

Lets face it, what law enforcement agency is going to have the time and budget to process and match more than about 10 DNA signatures per crime scene?

(I'd never actually do this, but I bet there are others who would)

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Alien

@ Simon.W

Just to bin the idea of "DNA identity theft":

If for whatever reason your DNA sample and someone elses are mixed up on the database and the you are connected to a person object or scene by their DNA it can not be used as evidence at court.

The process works like this

Your sample is placed on the database

DNA is found on an object.

This is then compared to existing samples on the database

IF a match is found then the person it relates to needs to be spoken to

There may be a perfectly reasonable explaination why your DNA would be there.

If sufficient grounds exist, and excluding you as a suspect would be one, another sample of DNA is taken from you to compare with that taken at the scene

So its matched object to physical person, not object to database. So you could never be convicted based on a database entry alone as it without doubt contains errors. For one thing there's bound to be multiple identical samples under different names if criminals have given false details.

The point about driving licenses is well made. Consider: An ID card with your photo , your name and date of birth and nothing else contains as much _private_ information as a DNA sample STR+ as described above. Neither tell anyone anything about your disposition, political views, tendency to violence.

Yet an ID card system is ubiquitous in many liberal civilised countries without them falling under the jackboot of fascist oppression (I'm just back from Spain and I though I was mostly tipsy on cheap wine I noticed no oppression)

Those who think our Police are Orwellian Storm troopers should get out more. A society where the police have to cravenly apologise for not realising beforehand that a picture of a puppy training to be a police dog would cause offence to Glasgow shop-owners has indeed gone very wrong but not in the direction you'd suggest. True story.

Alien because some of the comments show an only passing knowledge of the real world. That's what happens when you believe everything you read on t'internet I guess.

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