- 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
- 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
- "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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