Feeds

Citizens's panel demands policing for DNA database

But not by the police

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

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 the Human Genetics Commission find out what the public thinks about the database.

The 30 people were not just quizzed on their views - they met various "experts" to learn more and discussed the issues over a period of weeks. The panel produced some unanimous recommendations but also split on some key issues.

Among the unanimous recommendations were a public awareness campaign, specific information for suspects who have their DNA taken, better information for juries dealing with DNA evidence and a commission to oversee the database and publish an annual report.

Panel members were drawn from Birmingham and Glasgow. There are some differences between the regulation of DNA databases in Scotland and the rest of the UK. Children as young as 8 can have samples taken by Scottish police and entered on the database. For England and Wales kids must be over 10.

The panel generally favoured the Scottish system - which does not record the ethnicity of people who have samples taken and also deletes profiles for people not charged with a crime or acquitted. It was noted that if England and Wales did not record ethnicity we would not know how skewed the figures are - one third of young black British men are now on the database. A majority of people believed Scottish, English and Welsh regulations should be brought together.

But the group also showed how divided opinion is on these issues. A minority argued that a universal database was preferable to the existing system - that way no one could claim to be "criminalised" by being on it. A minority supported DNA testing every child at birth.

Some argued that samples should be kept for ever while a majority believed the length of time samples are kept should be proportionate to the crime committed.

A majority supported the deletion of records and samples of people once they're found innocent or not charged with an offence. But a minority believed such records should be kept regardless of guilt or innocence - some even believed they should be kept up to five years after death in case a crime comes to light.

The HGC will now run a consultation exercise until 7 November. It will then present its final report in early 2009. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.