British Top Cop Suggests DNA Database for Pre-criminal Children
Scotland Yard Director of Forensic Sciences Gary Pugh is looking to use the UK National Criminal Intelligence DNA Database more effectively. He thinks one way is to use educators and others to screen children for pre-criminal behaviors. Those with criminal tendencies would have their DNA added to the database to await their eventual criminal act.
‘If we have a primary means of identifying people before they offend, then in the long-term the benefits of targeting younger people are extremely large,’ said Pugh. ‘You could argue the younger the better. Criminologists say some people will grow out of crime; others won’t. We have to find who are possibly going to be the biggest threat to society.’
Pugh admitted that the deeply controversial suggestion raised issues of parental consent, potential stigmatisation and the role of teachers in identifying future offenders, but said society needed an open, mature discussion on how best to tackle crime before it took place. There are currently 4.5 million genetic samples on the UK database – the largest in Europe – but police believe more are required to reduce crime further. ‘
The number of unsolved crimes says we are not sampling enough of the right people,’ Pugh told The Observer. However, he said the notion of universal sampling – everyone being forced to give their genetic samples to the database – is currently prohibited by cost and logistics.
At present, anyone who is arrested for anything but the most minor of crimes has their DNA taken and stored in the database for 100 years. Whether they are eventually charged with a crime or convicted is irrelevant. An acquittal is not grounds for having one’s information removed.
But, forget the kids. I think people should be more worked up that Pugh thinks the only thing standing in the way of nationwide mandatory sampling is “cost and logistics.”