Thousands Of Worried
UK Police Refuse To Give
DNA Samples
By David Taylor

Thousands of police officers have refused to give DNA samples to a new Home Office database amid concerns that the genetic fingerprints could be used against them in paternity suits.
Police officers are also said to be anxious that their samples could be used to check for drugs, but their big concern is that the Child Support Agency will be able to access the computer database in a bid to track down fathers who shirk their responsibility.
The Home Office wants to collect DNA profiles of all officers who come into contact with evidence at crime scenes so they can be eliminated as suspects.
Advances in forensic science mean tiny quantities of saliva, sweat, hairs, microscopic blood spots, semen or even skin cells can provide virtually conclusive proof of an alleged offender's presence at a crime scene.
It is now possible to produce a full genetic fingerprint of someone who has merely brushed against a surface while committing an offence.
The Home Office wants to hold samples of 75,000 officers who might be expected to work at the scenes of crime. But the scheme, launched in February with £3million Home Office backing for processing and loading files, has so far received only 21,000 samples from the officers asked to volunteer.
The Home Office hopes it will have all of the target profiles by the end of July, but officials have been forced to reassure officers that their cell samples will not be used as a means of proving they are errant fathers or to expose them as drug users.
Peter Hands, regional manager of the DNA training project for the Forensic Science Service, said: "Some officers are absolutely convinced that outside agencies such as the CSA will have access to the elimination database.
"This is untrue. A search can only be requested by a senior officer against a specific named officer for elimination purposes on a specific crime."
Mr Hands makes the point that every police recruit is required to give fingerprints so forensic officers can eliminate rogue prints from their inquiries. He added: "The use of the DNA database will be no different from the way in which those fingerprints are used."
The reluctance of some rank and file officers to comply makes a mockery of the expectations placed on members of the public who are routinely asked to volunteer for mass DNA screening to help police eliminate innocent people from rape inquiries.
The rape of two teenage girls in a Surrey park earlier this year prompted DNA testing of 12,000 on a nearby estate and surrounding area as police hunted a local man.
Prime Minister Tony Blair consented to a swab being taken of cells from inside his mouth last year as he promoted moves to expand the national DNA database.
He wants all police forces to follow the example of the Metropolitan Police where DNA samples are taken from all suspects arrested for offences carrying a prison sentence.A Home Office spokesman said profiles would not be checked against existing databases to see if serving police officers could be linked to unsolved crimes. And they would be destroyed when officers retired.
© Express Newspapers, 2000

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