Genetic testing has become the standard and most accurate means of determining issues of Paternity through the use of Paternity DNA testing, forensic tests in crime-solving, immigrations tests and several other types of DNA testing. Moreover, the ease of collecting DNA and has given rise to the use of DNA databases. DNA fingerprints cannot be altered by surgery unlike our actual fingerprints; it is unchanged in almost every cell in our body.
Today DNA can be extracted from multiple alternative DNA sources and even the tiniest traces of DNA can be replicated by geneticists using what is known as polymerase chain reaction. This replication means that scientists have a lot of samples of the same DNA to work with; samples which can be take from hair, blood or a number of other alternative samples. Everywhere we go and everything we touch, we potentially leave traces of our DNA peppered all over the place. This makes gathering someone’s DNA pretty simple and has aided police solve countless crimes and has moreover, given birth to the much debated DNA databases.
The DNA Databases: Issues in Wales
The Welsh government is at logger heads with the European Court of Human Rights, especially since it has added thousands of innocent people to its DNA databases; a database which hold records of DNA profiles of people who have been convicted of various crimes. The European Court claims that this breaches individuals’ privacy issues. How big a worry is it when people are being filmed wherever they go, have banks recording people’s every move through their purchases, internet cookies recording sights you have visited and so forth. But for some this matter is very different. They are rather aversive to their DNA profiles being shuffled into archives along with that of criminals. The benefits this database holds for crime solving is great, it has aided DNA forensic experts and police solve many crimes. DNA testing has never been more useful. Having the genetic profiles of innocent people is not an idea to ridicule for many; after all there are many ‘dormant’ criminals.
The European Union has decided to share its DNA databases between member countries. It is not only DNA that will be shared but also fingerprints and automobile records. One government can demand that another government take a DNA source from one of its people. This agreement has been called the Prum Treaty. Moreover, British citizens travelling to the US will be fingerprinted and have their prints neatly archived amongst those of other criminals. The thought of all this can be appalling or appealing.
An initiative undertaken by Dallas, Texas is to collect DNA profiles from what are referred to as truck-stop prostitutes, the name being self-explanatory. This new idea will be implemented as from the beginning of 2010 and will help police identify women who are victims of murder or reported missing. The initiative was spurred by the need to solve thousands of murders often involving murderers poising as clients to prostitutes. The police will take mouth swabs from the prostitutes; a simple and easy way of gathering DNA which involves rubbing something similar to a cotton bud in the inside of the mouth and adding name, surname and other vital information. There is a consensus regarding the high risk the job entails though this runs parallel with those who refuse to condone prostitution and still view it as a criminal act. The city offers prostitutes a full health check and the choice for rehabilitation – again a brilliant move for some, a squandering of tax payers money on the other.
In the states, DNA databases and search policies are split between partial DNA searches and familial DNA searches. Both however, have the potential to implicate relatives of a criminal in a crime. A familial search involves police looking through databases to find a match in DNAs between that found on a crime scene and anyone in the database. A partial search usually means that the DNA profile was stumbled upon when doing routine databases searches. DNA databases can exclude individuals as being the perpetrators of a crime and can include relatives who have similar DNA profiles. Maybe authorities are moving towards a joint effort for a universal database and a major DNA testing scheme; however, it will likely be met with a lot of resistance.