Many of us are aware of the uniqueness of our DNA – nobody’s DNA is identical (except for identical twins). DNA tests are used extensively to determine biological relationships amongst people. Paternity tests, relationship tests and other forms of testing have gained ground because DNA testing has become so accurate and reliable. Moreover, it has also helped solve numerous crimes thanks to genetic fingerprints, a step further and better than normal fingerprints. Nowadays, there is also the use in some countries of government DNA databases.
But how would you feel if your government asked for samples of your DNA to store and catalogue in a massive population DNA database in order to make crime solving easier?
Europe and its DNA Database
The Prum Treaty was recently signed in Germany. It is an agreement amongst some member EU states which allows the sharing of DNA profiles, fingerprints, personal and non-personal details as an initiative to fight rising crime. A Prum Treaty member state can asked another member state to have an individual genetically testes in order to have access to their DNA profile. Recently, it has also extended beyond European borders as it was announced that people entering the US shall be fingerprinted and have these prints stored alongside various convicted criminals.
The Welsh government has been subject to harsh criticism as it went against a decision taken by the European court which stated it was not allowed to hold the genetic blueprints of innocent people. The European Court of human rights has declared such a move in breach of human rights. Yet, the Welsh government is still adding new DNA profiles of innocent people on a daily basis. In the UK DNA profiles are kept whether convictions are brought against them or not. Many argue only those convicted of serious crimes should have their DNA stored in a database.
Dallas, Swabbing Prostitutes for their Database
The DNA database in Dallas, Texas, will be carrying out DNA testing on prostitutes in order to have their DNA profiles in their database. The point of this is to protect these high risk workers from crimes; many are murdered or disappear. The police forces have made this move with the FBI. Prostitutes that will be arrested will not go straight to jail; rather they will be offered a rehabilitation program and offered the DNA testing option.
Police will use oral swabs to collect the DNA; this is the most common sampling method used in various other DNA tests and is done by rubbing a cotton swab on the inside of a person’s mouth. Some people are dead against the idea of a prostitute DNA database, although prostitutes are 200 times more likely than anyone else to be victims of violent crime. People claim that what these women are doing is illegal and that moreover, they know the risks they take by doing their job. Ultimately it is the tax payer’s money that will pay for this initiative.
More Controversy about the DNA Database
When police take DNA samples from a crime scene they can compare those DNA samples to the genetic profiles in the DNA database- a match and they have the perpetrator. DNA is unique to the individual, it can be collected from a hair, a razor, chewing gum and a number of other alternative sources of DNA. But problems could arise as relatives can have DNA profiles which are similar; what happens if there is a partial match in DNA profiles? There is a chance that a relative could be implicated in a crime he or she is innocent of; granted he or she will be cleared as DNA cannot lie, but the stress and aggravation caused makes many shudder at the thought.
The DNA database would ideally be universal once most of the world population would have their genetic profiles stored; other claim it will create a population of suspects. Over 60% of major old crimes in the UK have been solved thanks to DNA testing and people who were wrongly convicted prior to the use of genetic fingerprinting have been cleared and declared innocent.