Sunday, 24 February 2008

DNA – thus far and no further

People convicted of specified crimes should have their DNA taken and stored on a database of criminals. Entry to this database must be limited to convicted criminals.

DNA should be taken from crime scenes, checked against the criminal database and, if not identified, stored pending identification.

The taking of DNA from people who have merely been arrested should only be to check two things. Does it match any unidentified crime scene record? If so, the person is a suspect in a crime. Does it match any criminal record? If so, does this match the identity they purport to be and are they marked as wanted or jail? If neither of these things apply, the data should be destroyed.

The state has no right to our DNA. A universal DNA database will not stop crimes taking place. DNA evidence does not make convictions water-tight. It can be faked and planted, the same as any other evidence.

The Government's faux-position of 'we have no plans' to create such a database is not worth a tinker's cuss. Purposefully keeping hold of DNA samples from innocent people - many of them children and victims of crime themselves, is indefensible.

The panacea of a DNA database is offered up within a context of massive failure to effectively punish the convicted guilty. The DNA database is mainly helping the police identify convicted criminals who have been released from jail, when they shouldn't have been. The most glaring failure of the criminal justice system is the disregard of the two most important principles in dealing with crime: Punishment and protecting the public.


alison said...

I cannot wait for the database to be rolled out. If it is and they ever catch the man who raped me i will finally feel the justice i've been denied all these years and be able to move on. If that means inconveniencing a few arrested guys who 'suffer' the indignity of their dna on file it is a small price to pay. I'd *happily* swap them years of injustice and misery for that small 'inconvenience'. Stop the insanity! It works, is proven to work and what's it going to take to see a few Englishmen stand up for that instead of whinging about freedoms? My freedom is worth just as much!

alison said...

It has NOTHING to do with the punishment which is a totally seperate issue. I spent ages with the police who worked fucking hard on it and got nowhere. Noone can deny that this helps them. NOONE. And it makes me furious to read this, Sorry but you have no idea at all.

alison said...

I didn't mean to be rude. But you honestly do not know what is involved and how hard this crime is to track and prosecute - and i felt it slightly patronising to suggest that it is because victims do not feel justice alone that causes us to wish for this to be rolled out. It is proven to work. It is one of the hardest crimes to trace and it is the wider public, particularly men, who are rather slack in their outrage at this dispicable and common crime but then rush to put down any tool that helps the police. The police do an amazing job. They deserve all the tools necessary and im happy to read that it looks set to be expanded.

Trooper Thompson said...

Having my dna on file isn't going to solve any crimes, because I don't go round attacking people or robbing their stuff. Having everybody's dna won't end rape. In a great many cases, the defendant admits a sex act but claims consent was given.

I am not objecting to keeping dna on convicted criminals and unsolved crimes, and taking dna from people who are arrested for certain crimes.

The issue of punishment is indeed relevant. The law has become dysfunctional because punishment is not doled out to fit the crime, so even if someone is caught, it's likely that he won't be given much of a sentence and will be released in the knowledge that he will commit further crimes. Consider some of the crimes which have pushed this into the spotlight. One man murdered a girl, and was caught when he was arrested for assault some time later. I do not argue that his dna should have been checked. However, he was already a convicted rapist, who was deported from Australia, and no effort was made to deal with the threat he was known to pose. One man murdered five prostitutes and was caught because they had his dna on file for a previous conviction. Again, I do not dispute that such data should be kept. A man raped and murdered a Polish student. I do not know what role dna evidence was in this case. The question is why was he not still in jail after being convicted of kidnapping and raping two children some years before?

The accusation that my sense of outrage is reserved for such things as this, whilst somehow endulging serious violent crimes is not true.