DNA database

An excellent article by Jonathan Myerson on the DNA database, with which I wholeheartedly agree, and a piece in tomorrow’s Guardian (or today by the time you read this). The Guardian is concerned that the Home Secretary proposes to keep for 12 years the DNA profiles of those arrested but not convicted of serious sexual and violent offences – and yet we know that only a tiny proportion of those responsible for rapes and serious sexual assaults are prosecuted and an even smaller proportion go on to be convicted. In other words – there are a lot of ‘innocent’ rapists out there.
We know that DNA evidence has helped solved a significant number of murder cases, and also, importantly, clear those who have been wrongfully imprisoned, over recent years. It has also helped police identify rapists who would otherwise never be caught and who would go on to commit many more crimes. And this is where I fall out with the liberals on the left and the libertarians on the right. One person’s freedom not to have their DNA on the database is another person’s freedom to rape without being caught. Or to kill without being brought to justice.
According to the Guardian “The Home Office estimates that even this package will mean 4,500 fewer crimes each year being detected ­compared with the current policy of retaining indefinitely the profiles of all those arrested.”
Yes, Shami Chakrabati is right when she says the Government’s proposals could mean that ‘wholly innocent’ people could have their details stockpiled for years. That’s the cost of such a plan. But the benefit – protecting other wholly innocent people from being raped or worse, isn’t that worth the sacrifice? Are your ‘civil liberties’ really so precious that you’d be prepared to have these crimes on your conscience?
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