Link to BBC Homepage

Front Page

UK

World

Business

Sci/Tech

Sport

Despatches

World News in Audio


On Air

Cantonese

Talking Point

Feedback

Low Graphics

Help

Site Map

Tuesday, May 5, 1998 Published at 07:12 GMT 08:12 UK



UK

Call for national DNA database
image: [ A person's DNA is their unique genetic fingerprint ]
A person's DNA is their unique genetic fingerprint


Peter Gammon tells Radio 5 Live: "We may prevent a serial rapist committing more crime" (3'30")
A senior policeman has proposed stepping up the fight against crime by taking a DNA sample from every person in Britain.

The President of the Police Superintendents' Association, Peter Gammon, wants the government to consider setting up a national DNA database to help make it easier to identify offenders.

Success in catching crooks

The call follows the success of the current database, which holds DNA information on more than 250,000 people who have been charged or convicted of recordable offences.


[ image: Forensic science is a vital part of modern police work]
Forensic science is a vital part of modern police work
In about 40% of cases where a DNA sample is taken from a crime scene a match is found from the database.

However, Mr Gammon said the time taken to collect and analyse samples from suspects after a crime is "time-consuming and can delay the progress of an investigation."

He said officers would catch crooks faster if they could compare their evidence to a pre-existing library containing the unique genetic record of every individual in Britain.

BBC correspondents say the technology exists to create such a database, but the task would take years and cost and estimated £1bn.

Civil liberties concerns


Liz Parratt, Campaigns manager for Liberty : level of balance needs to be struck between law enforcement and liberty' (2'21")
Civil liberties groups are also opposed on the grounds that it would infringe on the privacy and freedom of individuals.

Mr Gammon acknowledges these concerns. He said he would expect any national database to be introduced with "the same safeguards that already exist in relation to medical records."


[ image: Samples would have to be taken from almost 60m people]
Samples would have to be taken from almost 60m people
Concerns about the security surrounding a database have also been raised by Professor Alec Jeffries, a pioneer in developing DNA identification.

He warned: "A determined criminal might be very tempted to try to hack into such a database and alter their entry and so give them the ultimate genetic alibi for any crime they might commit."
 





Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage

©

Link to BBC Homepage

  Relevant Stories

10 Mar 98 | Sci/Tech
DNA 'photofit' closes in on crooks

19 Feb 98 | Sci/Tech
Computers come to life

 
  Internet Links

The Forensic Science Service

The Forensic Science Society


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.
 
In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online





UK Contents

Northern Ireland
Scotland
Wales
England