Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Dogs and DNA

England is a nation of dog lovers, a nation of bird lovers and it used to be a nation of freedom lovers, too.

I listen to the morning news on the radio every day. I often switch it on before I get out of bed. Just me and my husband and now baby Cletus lounging in bed- maybe dosing in and out a little. Some stories capturing my ear and my imagination more than others.

This morning there was a story about how walking your dog, even on a lead, could disrupt certain bird populations. I knew that would get the wellies-and-dog-on-a-country-walk crowd in a tither*.

The next story I caught was about a judge who thought that everyone in the whole of the UK should be on the government's DNA database (and visitors to the UK, too which ought to do wonders for the tourist industry).

Currently, if you're arrested (for anything) the police can take a DNA sample which can be kept forever. Even if charges are dropped or you've been acquitted or it was a horrible case of mistaken identity. But Lord Justice Sedley wants everyone - everyone to be in the DNA database. And why? Because otherwise it wouldn't be fair.

Lord Justice Sedley said the current database, which holds DNA from crime suspects and scenes, was "indefensible" because it was unfair and inconsistent.

You see the problem with the database - as it currently stands - is that it seems to disproportionately hold the DNA of criminals.


As soon as the dog-and-bird story finished, folks were emailing away defending the practice of dog walking. Sure, some people registered their concerns about having everyone's DNA on file - chiefly that if - even by mistake - a copper comes to your door saying your DNA has been found at the scene - well, that's the absolute end of the presumption of innocence.

Others said basically "if you haven't done anything wrong then you don't have anything to worry about."

Yeah, right. I'll never understand this attitude.

* for the record, I don't care if dogs on leads can interrupt birds. As a cat owner, I've already made my position on birds pretty clear.


Furrow said...

Nice. Next they'll be collecting dog DNA so that they can come arrest suspected bird disturbers.

Thanks for helping us back in the good ol US of A not feel like the only dumbasses in the world.

KathyF said...

That study was done in Australia. Everyone knows birds in Australia are wimps.

Anonymous said...

I know what you mean. Heck, Britain's such a beyotch to live in. Why would you want to stay here considering all thats wrong with it. Best go home to america. After all, everything is just so right there, isn't it?

Vol Abroad said...

I pay my taxes. I live here legally. Don't I have a right - indeed an obligation - to speak up I feel something is wrong. The DNA database is wrong. The dog thing is just quirky - and that's what's fun about living here.

Get a grip.