ChatterBank9 mins ago
DNA is recognised as the greatest innovation ever.
I tonight watched two programmes.The first was Tonight with Trevor McDonald regarding the murder of Sally Anne Chapman.Her killers DNA is on the National DNA Database as he has previously committed another sexually related crime.
I have watched the documentary about Wearside Jack who was tracked down eventually through DNA.
Sally Anne would undoubtedly be alive today if every man and women gave their DNA for a National Database.
Pros - lives would be saved.
Cons - loss of civil rights
I have attempted to make this as succinct as possible.
Which side do you come down on?
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Sadly, with the former, you will find lots of cases where the police have fabricated evidence - how much easier to get a conviction if you can say we proved it with DNA to a jury!
With the second, look at the fiasco with passports, DVLA, benefits system etc.
In an ideal world, I would agree with it - unfortunately this is not an ideal world and it is to open to misuse.
I didn't see the program you refer to, however I am not sure I understand - Sally Anne's killer was on the DNA database as he had commited a crime before - so they obviously caught him. I am not sure I understand when you say "would undoubtedly be alive today if every man and women gave their DNA for a National Database"
Trouble is DG, DNA show someone had contact it does not prove that, that someone did it. I mean what if some of the victims of which you speak had been on a crowded tube could have picked up hair etc from lots of people. Then what? some innocent commuter is fitted up?
Also I'm with Vic on this I do not trust the authorities with this power.
I am open to all theories on this one Loosehead.I am sure I have someone elses DNA on me as I sit here but do you not think that forensics have advanced to such a degree that it might be DNA evidence from blood,saliva semen,skin under victims fingernails,bites etc would be the determining factors.
I do understand where you are coming from but to be honest I'm sure the forensic scientists must have the ability to seperate the wheat from the chaffe,so to speak.
DNA doesn't prove someone committed a crime. It merely proves that DNA testing on something found at the scene of the crime has a similar profile to the DNA of the suspect. It will be presented to the jury in the manner of odds e.g. there is a 5 million to one chance that the DNA could have come from someone else. Obviously with odds like that it would have to be an unlucky concidence that it was someone else but
a) that doesn't mean it definitely was them
b) it certainly doesn't prove they did the crime
c) jurors rely on expert witnesses to give interpret the odds for them (and we all know how they never get it wrong...)
DNA testing is a useful tool but it's not 100% successful, can't be used in isolation & as has already been pointed out, can be misused.
Like Vic, in an ideal world I would happily provide a sample but you've only got to read some of the answers in the News threads on AB to see we are a loooooong way from living in the perfect society.
Have you seen the film Gattaca? I'd recommend it.
I sat on a jury once. Evidence was given that a hair was found on a rucksack containg a stash of drugs that matched one of the suspects. A police scientist stood in the dock & told us that DNA testing on the hair showed it came from the person in question. When cross-examined he was made to retract his statement that it was this man's hair; he changed it to say that the likelihood of the hair belonging to anyone else was less than 1 in 60 million.
I personally had some misgivings about his 'evidence'. First of all, the bag of drugs was allegedly found at his friend's house (which the suspect used to visit so, you would expect to find this guy's hair in more than one place, crime-scene or not); secondly, the only witness to the hair being found was another policeman; and thirdly, the scientist initally told us that it was the suspect's hair & had to backtrack when the defence pulled him up on it.
A couple of us were somewhat curious as to how they calculated the odds (after all, if they don't have everybody's DNA on file how can they possibly know the odds?) and asked to see the evidence with an explanation as to how they came to the conclusion that this hair could only have belonged to this one man. We were allowed to see & handle the hair in a sealed plastic bag but were told that the science behind DNA testing was very complicated and, in essence, were told to simply take his word for it. Clearly, this is the same for a lot of evidence presented in a court case but at least 2 people on the jury felt the accused should be convicted based largely on the DNA evidence. I firmly believe that was because it was a scientist that told us.
As it happens, we eventually found them all guilty but only by a majority verdict, it was not unanimous and we deliberated for nearly 8 hours. For what it's worth, I believed they were guilty but it took 2 weeks & a lot more evidence before most of us were convinced. What will stick with me for a very long time though was that at least 2 people said they were ready to convict this man just a couple of days into the trial just because of the DNA 'evidence'.
Now, don't get me wrong. I don't believe that the evidence was planted (although, while I really hate to say this, I do believe that in some cases this actually would happen) or that the scientist in the box lied about the odds. But because he was not a uniformed officer the impression was created (or that's how it appeared to me) that he was an impartial observer. But he wasn't, his job was to help convict these men and as far as I know was the person that calculated the odds. Ours was not such an open & shut case but I believe (certainly, hope) that the correct decision was reached. I can see how easily someone could be wrongly convicted though on the strength of the magic DNA wand.
Good point stoo-pid.
Seems such a pity we have advanced to this stage but the very people we entrust to administer it cant be trusted orat least we are sceptical about.
Looks like we have a long way to go purely down to human failings - we have potentially the means at hand to have a wonderful Database scientifically but not morally.
newtron - now I know where you got your name:)
I did read up on DNA Databases last night before posting but I have spent 10 minutes on this and can honestly say when it got to the easy bit I thought Yes!! No(: Double dutch would be easier :)
However I did take something out it you will be glad to know.The PCR technique which is the more sensitive and frequently used can be contaminated in the lab by clinicians.
I know within my heart of hearts in the ideal world we should be heralding DNA.I am keeping an open mind now on the Database and I would welcome other points of view.Thank you to all who have contributed so far - it truly is thought provoking.