DNA Databases

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  • DNA Databases
    • UK DNA Databases
      • The National DNA Database is located in Birmingham
        • Holds profiles from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
          • Units from 5 organisations submit records onto the database
          • Profiles derive from sample of human material collected from a crime scene
            • For example: salvia, hair and blood
        • Operation of the NDNAD
          • Two main sets of data
            • 2) Profiles generated from individuals
              • 4.85 million samples in 2010
            • 1) Profiles generated from evidence that has been collected  from crime scenes
              • 350,000 samples retained in 2010
      • Other Services
        • Vulnerable Persons DNA Database
        • Missing persons DNA Database
        • DNA mixture check through DNA boost
      • Criteria
        • the original criteria was that  the person arrested for an offence punishable by imprisonment
          • If person is found not guilty then their profile would be removed
        • In 2001, the Criminal Justice and Police Act allowed samples to be retained even if the individual was not found guilty.
          • These regulations were further relaxed in 2003-2005 with the Criminal Justice Act and Serious Organised Crime and Police Act.
            • Purpose of DNA expansion was to increase the intelligence value of the NDNAD by increasing the number of DNA profiles held there
              • Led to an increase in the number of DNA profiles
                • In 2010, the NDNAD contained profiles of approximately 1 million individuals that had not been found guilty of any crime
                  • Challenges arose from the increase in profiles
                    • A landmark ruling was made by ECHR
                      • All profiles of those under 10 to be removed
    • Searching the database to find a march helps to identify a suspect in around 60 per cent of cases
      • A biological sample will be submitted for analysis and compared to those on the database
    • Cons
      • Public Concerns
        • Potential loss of data or misuse
        • Being treated like a criminal
        • The personal nature of the DNA
        • Possibility of being falsely accussed
        • Implications of having a criminal record for the rest of their life
      • Critisms to expansion of the database
        • Increases risk of miscarriages of justice due to false matches/errors
        • Expanding the database did not help solve more crimes
        • Matches are a poor measure of success - many matches are now with innocent people and not the perpetrator
        • Access to DNA samples and profiles can allow unethical abuse
          • Ethical considerations
            • There is a need for a balance between protecting people from crime and protecting the right to privacy of innocent  people
              • Is it justified for the police to take DNA and fingerprint samples upon arrest?
              • Is it justified for people data to be stored permanently even if they are innocent?
              • What are the implications for innocent people having their details on a database
    • Pros
      • The severity of crime often increases with age - criminal activity often starts young
      • Criminal tend to reoffend
        • 90% rapists have had a previous conviction
      • A small number of criminals can be responsible for a large number of crimes
        • Linking these crimes together can aid investigations
    • Recommendation / report of DNA databases
      • The Nuffield Council for Bioethics Report 2007
        • To promote public discussion and assist policy makers
        • Ethical Values
          • 'No reason to fear if you are innocent'
          • Protection of the public from crime vs. protection of ethical values
        • Developments
          • DNA profiles of individuals of non-convicted individuals to be kept for a maximum of 6 years (3 for under 18s)
          • All biological samples to be destroyed
          • DNA profiles of volunteers no longer added
          • Protection of Freedom Act 2012
          • Innocent people's DNA profiles will automatically be removed from the database

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