Roadside DNA Tests On Citizens Planned
COMING TO AMERICA....!
Roadside DNA Tests On Citizens Planned
By David Cracknell, Deputy Political Editor
Drivers or other people stopped by police could be asked to supply
on-the-spot hair or saliva samples to identify whether they are
Government scientists have developed a hand-held DNA testing kit to be
carried and operated by police officers during regular patrols. The
device would be electronically linked to the national DNA database,
which Tony Blair has hailed as an essential tool in the fight against
The Forensic Science Service will disclose to Parliament this week
that the equipment could be ready for standard use within a couple
of years. The testing kit, which could become as common as the
breathlyser or police baton, will dramatically cut the time it takes
to match DNA evidence from crime scenes to suspects. It will raise
fresh fears among civil liberties campaigners who believe that the
pendulum has swung too far in the police's direction.
Forensic scientists already expect that soon they will be able to use
a single hair sample to discover a suspect's eye colour, facial
characteristics, height and weight. They say that the next step will
be portable testing kits that need little technical ability to
operate. The FSS will give evidence to the House of Lords science and
technology committee this week, telling peers that research on the
kits is well advanced.
It currently takes at least 48 hours to profile biological material
collected from a crime scene, but the new kits could give police an
instant lead if they were made standard issue. They would allow such
tests to be carried out outside the laboratory for the first time. A
spokesman for the FSS, which is a Government agency, said: "We feel
that we have gone as far down the line as we can in terms of what a
DNA profile can tell us about an individual and the next area we are
looking at is speeding up the process."
The Telegraph has seen written evidence to the Lords committee from
one of the organisation's chief scientists, Dr Bob Bramley, and
research documents. The committee began its inquiry after becoming
concerned about the dramatic increase in the scale of DNA samples
collected by the police.
Earlier this year, the Prime Minister announced an extra £109 million
for the expansion of the police's DNA database in Birmingham to
include samples from "the entire active criminal population" -
estimated to be around three million.
The police have already collected nearly a million samples from those
convicted of an offence that carries a prison sentence. Senior
officers are now lobbying for changes in the law to allow further
expansion of the database to include innocent people who volunteer to
take part in mass screenings.
Civil liberties campaigners are opposing any extension of the police's
authority to to collect samples. They cite an official report which
found that thousands of samples are being illegally held on the
database because forces are failing to remove the records of acquitted
suspects. John Wadham, the director of the human rights group Liberty,
said: "The law already allows the unjustified collection of samples
and we know that there are at least 50,000 being illegally held at the
FSS database. This is not the time to relax the law."
Victory for the Constitution?
Clinton seeks final triumph
By David Sharrock, Ireland Correspondent
His hope was to secure a final diplomatic victory in Belfast today. There
was tight security for Mr Clinton and his wife Hillary and their daughter
NOT A WORD IN THE NEWS ABOUT THIS TRIP?
"I tolerate with the utmost latitude the right of
others to differ from me in opinion"
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Senate approves police searches and seizures without warrants.
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