Saturday, February 23, 2008

DNA Database

As if the government hasn't already lost enough of our private information, a certain Det Supt Stuart Cundy thinks that they should implement a national DNA database. By an amazing strike of fortuitousness they've rejected these calls.

The argument given was that it took police 9 months to catch Mark Dixie, the killer of Sally Anne Bowman. Now, I'm sorry but this sounds like a serious buck-passing exercise. Maybe if more police resource was spent on this case, and less on searching bored teenagers, putting up speed cameras and paperwork they might have more to be proud about. You can't just say 'oh, it took us so long to catch him because no one confessed.' but that's essentially what they're saying.

There are a lot of problems with a DNA database, not just around the accuracy or confidentiality of the information contained within, but more fundamentally around the DNA profiling techniques in use today. No matter what you see on CSI they're not 100% accurate and should not be relied on as compelling evidence. DNA profiling is at best circumstantial evidence and it's interpretation very much open to the skills of the particular researcher.

The day we rely purely on DNA evidence to convict someone will be a very sad day indeed.

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