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Police reject Labour MP's call for Bristol-wide DNA test

'Not something we're considering'

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Bristol police have pooh-poohed a Labour MP's call for all men living in Bristol to provide DNA samples in the hunt for the killer of Jo Yeates.

Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East and Shadow Junior Minister for the Treasury, was reported in yesterday’s Sunday Express as calling for Bristolians to provide their DNA to assist the investigation.

According to the Express, Miss McCarthy said: "I understand some people think this is an invasion of their privacy but I think most people would understand that city-wide testing could get the killer off the streets.

"A lot of people are worried about this person still being on the streets in Bristol and it is important they are caught as soon as possible.

"It is a massive task to do a DNA swab for the whole of the city but I think if it helps catch the killer it is the right thing to do and people will be happy to do this."

Canon Alan Finley of Clifton Catholic Cathedral was reported in the same paper as supporting a city-wide DNA test "if it could draw in the necessary evidence".

Although such a call is likely to find instant favour with the "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" brigade, there are many questions both about the effectiveness and the ethics of such an approach.

Although Ms McCarthy’s office initially suggested that she was merely supporting a call already made by the police, the boys in blue were adamant that no such demand was currently under consideration. A spokeswoman for the Avon and Somerset force told El Reg this morning: "The move to DNA swab all men in the Clifton area is not something that Avon and Somerset Police are considering at this moment in time."

Asked whether the team felt such a move would be helpful, she said this was a "matter of personal opinion".

Testing the best part of a quarter of a million suspects would be a massive investment of time and resources, and a complete waste of both if the perpetrator either lived just outside the target area or happened to be female.

Avon and Somerset would not comment on the gender of the perpetrator, though they did tell us they are "not ruling out whether one or more persons are involved".

Such a plan may have fallen flat in any case. A persistent history of foot-dragging or outright refusal by police to destroy samples that non-suspects were told would be removed at the end of an investigation – as highlighted in this timely blog - means that the chances of everyone meekly turning up at their local station to "help police with their inquiries" is now much diminished. ®

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