Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Concerns Over Potential Future Use Of DNA Of Innocents On National Database

Date:
January 14, 2008
Source:
University of Leicester
Summary:
The inventor of DNA fingerprinting has voiced his concerns over the ethics of a DNA database. He spoke out over the 'significant ethical and social issues' as the government launched an inquiry into the way the national DNA database is used. The UK database, with the DNA of over 4million people, was launched in 1995 and allows all DNA collected by forensics- for whatever purposes - to be stored indefinitely.

The inventor of DNA fingerprinting, Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys, of the University of Leicester, has voiced his concerns over the ethics of a DNA database.

Related Articles


Professor Jeffreys –known as the father of DNA fingerprinting-spoke out over the ‘significant ethical and social issues’ as the government launched an inquiry into the way the national DNA database is used.The UK database, with the DNA of over 4million people, was launched in 1995 and allows all DNA collected by forensics -- for whatever purposes -- to be stored indefinitely.

Professor Jeffreys, who is Royal Society Wolfson Research Professor in the Department of Genetics, invented DNA fingerprinting at the University of Leicester in 1984. The world renowned technique has revolutionised forensic science and has been used to resolve paternity disputes.

Professor Jeffreys said the database was a very powerful tool in the fight against crime but added he was concerned that the database was being populated by people who had not been convicted of any crime.

This was not the initial purpose of the database which was originally meant to hold the DNA of convicted criminals.Professor Jeffreys expressed concerns about the retention of innocent individuals on the National DNA Database and the use of kinship analysis in forensic investigations.

He said: "The national DNA database is a very powerful tool in the fight against crime, but recent developments such as the retention of innocent people's DNA raises significant ethical and social issues.

"The real concern I have in the UK is what I see as a sort of 'mission creep'. When the DNA database was initially established, it was to database DNA from criminals so if they re-offended, they could be picked up.

"Now hundreds of thousands of entirely innocent people are populating that database - people who have come to the police's attention, for example, by being arrested or charged with a crime and subsequently released.

"This was not the initial purpose of the database which was originally meant to hold the DNA of convicted criminals.I have real concerns about the retention of innocent individuals on the National DNA Database. There are also issues concerning familial searching, where the database is used to identify possible relatives of an unknown suspect in a criminal investigation."

During a law lecture at the University of Leicester the Right Honourable Lord Justice Sedley, a senior appeal court judge, also highlighted concerns over the DNA database.

Lord Justice Sedley, who has been a prominent member of the Court of Appeal since 1999, gave a lecture entitled Rarely Pure and Never Simple: The Law and the Truth. In it, he called for a national DNA database to be set up which recorded every individual in the country as well as those leaving or entering.

He argued that under the present system the difficulties in securing reliable evidence have led to miscarriages of justice. Further, the only samples that are currently held are from persons who have been arrested, whether or not a charge or conviction follows. This, he added “has the unfortunate effect of putting the innocent on a par with guilty”.

Lord Justice Sedley said the use of the DNA data would have to be restricted, as it is now, to the purposes of preventing, detecting, investigating and prosecuting crime.

He added that there was also a need for a separate national DNA register, separate from policing, and retained for purposes like identifying disaster victims or tracing lost children.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Leicester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Leicester. "Concerns Over Potential Future Use Of DNA Of Innocents On National Database." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 January 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080111224007.htm>.
University of Leicester. (2008, January 14). Concerns Over Potential Future Use Of DNA Of Innocents On National Database. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080111224007.htm
University of Leicester. "Concerns Over Potential Future Use Of DNA Of Innocents On National Database." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080111224007.htm (accessed November 26, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Who Will Failed Nuclear Talks Hurt Most?

Reuters - Business Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) With no immediate prospect of sanctions relief for Iran, and no solid progress in negotiations with the West over the country's nuclear programme, Ciara Lee asks why talks have still not produced results and what a resolution would mean for both parties. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Flying Enthusiast Converts Real-Life Aircraft Cockpit Into Simulator

Flying Enthusiast Converts Real-Life Aircraft Cockpit Into Simulator

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) A virtual flying enthusiast converts parts of a written-off Airbus aircraft into a working flight simulator in his northern Slovenian home. Jim Drury reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Car Park Solution for Flexible Green Energy

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Nov. 24, 2014) A British solar power start-up says that by covering millions of existing car park spaces around the UK with flexible solar panels, the country's power problems could be solved. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Microsoft Adds Robot Guards, Ushers In Sci-Fi Apocalypse

Microsoft Adds Robot Guards, Ushers In Sci-Fi Apocalypse

Newsy (Nov. 23, 2014) Microsoft has robotic security guards working at its Silicon Valley Campus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins