The forensic use of bioinformation: ethical issues


Published 19/09/2007

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This report concluded that DNA profiling is an increasingly valuable tool for detecting and prosecuting offenders, but more safeguards are needed to protect the liberty and privacy of the innocent.

Specifically, the Council found that the indefinite storage of DNA profiles of people who are arrested but never charged or convicted was a disproportional measure. Instead, a move to bring the law in England, Wales and Northern Ireland into line with Scotland (where bioinformation is only indefinitely retained for those convicted of a recordable offence) is recommended.

The report also makes recommendations in the following areas:

  • the storage of bioinformation taken from witnesses, victims and children
  • the use of the National DNA Database for familial searching, ethnic inferencing and research
  • the establishment of a population-wide DNA database
  • the use of bioinformation in court
  • the governance and ethical oversight of forensic databases