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UK Police Want DNA of 'Potential Offenders' 578

Posted by Zonk
from the when-everyone-is-special-nobody-is dept.
mrogers writes "British police want to collect DNA samples from children as young as five who 'exhibit behavior indicating they may become criminals in later life'. A spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers argued that since some schools already take pupils' fingerprints, the collection and permanent storage of DNA samples was the logical next step. And of course, if anyone argues that branding naughty five-year-olds as lifelong criminals will stigmatize them, the proposed solution will be to take samples from all children."
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UK Police Want DNA of 'Potential Offenders'

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  • And? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Colin Smith (2679)


    If you've nothing to hide...

     
    • Re:And? (Score:5, Informative)

      by BSAtHome (455370) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @07:06PM (#22768388)
      Sure you have nothing to hide. You submitted a DNA sample of your neighbor and passed it along as your own. Instead of you have nothing to hide, you are non-existent. A nice prospect to keep below the radar.
    • And... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Max Threshold (540114) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @09:57PM (#22769498)
      When governments go bad, good people have everything to hide.
    • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by LKM (227954) on Monday March 17, 2008 @05:14AM (#22771190) Homepage

      If you've nothing to hide...

      Do you really think there's even a single person in the whole world who has nothing to hide? How about your medical history, would you be okay with everyone knowing that? Do you not care if everyone know who you've slept with (or, as the case may be, have not slept with but pretended to have slept with)? How about that one time you've shat your pants for some ridiculous reason when you were 8 years old? You don't care if everyone knows this? How about letting the police know how fast you drive? You don't care about that? Surely you've never broken the speed limit? Or maybe crossed the road when the signal was still red? No jaywalking? Never littered? Never thrown a cup of coffee at your boyfriend in the heat of an argument? Never stole your neighbour's newspaper out of his box because you saw an interesting article? Never found a wallet without any identification and just kept the money? Never insulted your friend when he wasn't present? Want your new employer to know you've stolen a sandwich out of the fridge at your previous place of work? Or that you had an affair with your old boss's secretary? Or that you like to wear women's underwear? That you downrob gigs of movies and music off the Interwebs? Or that you jerk off to violent hot gritz fat chicks midget porn all evening? Or that you tend to post pages and pages of dumb crap on Slashdot instead of working (which, by the way, is obviously the only one of these points which applies to me, for the record :-)?

      Nobody has nothing to hide, and our society only works because we're allowed to keep secrets. If every bad deed were punished, everyone would constantly be punished. Privacy is an important right; without it and without the ability to do "small" bad things, our society would not work.

  • Unbe-fucking-lievable.
    • Law & Order (Score:2, Insightful)

      by p51d007 (656414)
      Hey, I'll be the first one who is a law & order type of person, but this one scares the crap out of me.
      • Re:Law & Order (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jcr (53032) <jcr.mac@com> on Sunday March 16, 2008 @07:12PM (#22768436) Journal
        I'll be the first one who is a law & order type of person, but this one scares the crap out of me.

        That's probably because this has nothing to do with law and order. This is about totalitarianism, which is a crime.

        -jcr
        • Re:Law & Order (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Original Replica (908688) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @09:12PM (#22769232) Journal
          This is about totalitarianism, which is a crime.

          I wonder how safe from this we are here in the US? To my mind DNA is the epitome of "personal effects" as covered by the fourth amendment. (I would ask any lawyers here to explain the laws around requesting DNA samples.) Don't our British friends have something parallel about what types of things require a warrant to collect? Is any judge going to issue a warrant for evidence from a five year old?
    • by fastest fascist (1086001) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @07:23PM (#22768524)
      Tell me about it. I'm left speechless and weighing two options: going into politics to advocate a fast-track nuclear weapons program with the intent of wiping the UK off the planet before the cancer spreads (too late, I fear) or just buying as big a gun as I can and becoming a hermit in some hole somewhere. The latter option I'm considering because the former is realistically not feasible, although otherwise tempting, and I don't trust this insanity to remain on that island.

      If I believed in God, I'd be praying for some serious smiting right about now.
      • by Nazlfrag (1035012) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @10:30PM (#22769700) Journal
        Yeah, collecting DNA from innocent people is far more scary and insane than nuking millions of innocent people. I sympathise with you, but I do find the whole notion of nuking things you don't like the most abhorrent, disrespectful and just plain retarded concepts I've come across.

        I did find the bit about hermiting into a hole with a big gun to escape insanity quite hilarious though.

  • Tin foil helmet sales surge!
  • by dotancohen (1015143) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:34PM (#22768110) Homepage
    If they want my DNA, they can bend right over and I'll happily give it to them.
  • For fuck's sake (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BenoitRen (998927) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:35PM (#22768120)

    Are they almost done with their 1984-like obsession in becoming a police state?

    Ooh, look, little Johnny is acting a little weird! Quick, get a DNA sample from him, he could be a future criminal!

    It doesn't even make sense!

    • Re:For fuck's sake (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:49PM (#22768244) Journal
      No shit. What the fuck is up with the UK these days? The USA is a pit of right wing idiocy, but I always blame it on the fact they're morons from the gitgo. I mean really - that George Bush could be considered a viable candidate indicates that way too many knuckledragging retards live there. So you sort of have to spot the yanks a few right off.

      But one would think that the UK, with THOUSANDS of years of experience, and having had their nation bombed and burned by fascists would be a good bit more on top of this kind of thing. But. no. It's like they're saying "Roights? Who needs roights? Cor Blimey - just gimme a pint there guvnah!" sheeesh. Between the jillions of cameras in London, which HAVEN'T really made the city safer, and the constant erosion of human rights and common sense, argh. It's a sad thing to watch.

      RS

      • Re:For fuck's sake (Score:5, Insightful)

        by EdIII (1114411) * on Sunday March 16, 2008 @07:07PM (#22768396)
        I see a -troll modifier here real quick for you.

        that George Bush could be considered a viable candidate indicates that way too many knuckledragging retards live there


        Speaking as one of the purported knuckledragging retards, I would like to point out just how many people in the US are fanatically against what is happening here. Even with speaking out and performing civil disobediance, we don't seem to be able to gain any traction, let alone actual forward motion against our government.

        The astronomically high level of collusion, complicity, and corruption in the government, the military industrial complex, and special interests makes it nearly impossible to keep our rights from eroding faster and faster.

        So you can insult us all you want, but we are just working off the example of the UK with its "thousands of years of experience". Not to compare "our pain", but you did have absolute monarchies in your past and have worked from the ground up for personal liberties. The US started out with the pretense of "liberty for all" and turned it to "power and property for the few".

        Maybe instead of taking the time to drag the US in the mud with your name calling, you could use all that energy for some good ol' civil disobediance. Put a burning tire around one of those cameras, sabotage something, anything.

        If anything, both of our systems of government are broken irreparably, and need to be tore down with something new put in its place. Of course, that will be awfully hard to do peacefully, which is my greatest fear.
        • US politics... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Joce640k (829181) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @07:22PM (#22768514) Homepage
          a) The US political system is heavily biased towards those who claim to be Christians.

          b) There's a demonstrable negative correlation between intelligence and religious belief, for an intelligent person to be a successful politician in the USA they mostly have to lie about their religious beliefs (eg. Pres. Clinton).

          Conclusion: The US political system is biased against intelligent, honest people.

          • Re:US politics... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by SpacePunk (17960) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @09:16PM (#22769248) Homepage
            All political systems are biased against honest people.
        • Re:For fuck's sake (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Ralph Spoilsport (673134) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @09:55PM (#22769494) Journal
          Oh, I know I know. I have many many friends sweating it out in the Empire. I get daily reports on the misery, and they are NOT knuckledragging retards. Except for Aaron. He's a fucking idiot. But I digress...

          You are correct. Please note: I'm not in the UK. I find what is happening there very sad, and just as sad as the USA, my former homeland.

          This song sums up my feelings about the USA:

          Going to a Town [youtube.com]

          And this sums up my opinion of WAY too many of its inhabitants:

          America [youtube.com]

          And with the way the UK govt is going, it's going straight here:

          SexCrime [youtube.com]

          And it's just really really sad to watch. The USA did away with habeus corpus, and the gutless democrats haven't found the FUCKING BALLS to reinstate it. But it was the Brits who invented it BECAUSE of a Really Craptastic King they had forcing them to develop the Magna Carta. So many thousands of people struggled and died for the freedoms we all take for granted, and it seems people are just too stupid or cowed to bother demanding their privacy and freedom.

          RS

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MarkKnopfler (472229)
        I wish I had moderation points to mod the parent up. I completely concur. It is amazing that in such a mature democracy such as the UK, people can get away after spouting such nonsense. Comments or plans of this variety deserve a few heads to roll for fucks sake ! At lease _somebody_ should take to the streets man ! Somebody !
    • Re:For fuck's sake (Score:4, Insightful)

      by corsec67 (627446) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:49PM (#22768246) Homepage Journal
      Ooh, look, little Johnny is acting a little weird! Quick, get a DNA sample from him, he could be a future criminal!

      Sure it makes sense:
      Nobody thinks their precious little snowflake is going to be caught by that, so they want to defend their child against the evil little children.
      • Re:For fuck's sake (Score:5, Insightful)

        by jc42 (318812) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @10:13PM (#22769580) Homepage Journal
        Nobody thinks their precious little snowflake is going to be caught by that, so they want to defend their child against the evil little children.

        Actually, I'd guess that there are a good number of people who are afraid that their own kid just might get caught by it, so they'll resist getting into the DNA database. The reason is that humanity has a long, sorry history of looking for this sort of magic test that will lighten the tough load of good police work, and let the authorities just go out and arrest people who show some physical features that are listed as sure signs of criminality.

        The classical physical features are race-related, of course. Lots of Americans "know" that dark-skinned people are all criminals who haven't yet been caught. In Europe, the victim groups are sometimes different, the they've always existed. In northern Europe, it's people from southern Europe. In southern Europe, it's people from Africa or the East. And everywhere, it's gypsies. If a person in the wrong group is anywhere near the scene of a crime, they get arrested and charged with the crime. It's a lot easier than the hard work of finding the actual culprit, y'know.

        It wasn't so long ago that having the wrong bumps on your head made you a "potential criminal". We know now that that was pseudo-science, but enough people believed it that the police could use it as a way of avoiding the hard police work. Lately, we've had a few people pointing out that fingerprinting has never been scientifically tested, is at most useful for rejecting suspects whose prints don't match, and textbooks go into great detail about the situations where matching isn't even possible. But the technical skeptics are ignored, because it simplifies the job of picking someone to arrest (and Hollywood has told us that it works).

        And in general, the poorest people are always "potential criminals". I suppose the reasoning is that they are the ones with the strongest motive to be criminals. And, of course, if you can't get a job because you didn't get a good education because your parents couldn't afford to pay for good schools, you may find that a criminal life is the only one open to you.

        Anyway, I'd guess that in most of the world, there's a good-sized underclass that will instantly understand what this latest "potential offender" test means. It means that their DNA will be the type classified as potential offenders. Being on the list will eliminate most of their job opportunities, and will lead to arrests any time they happen to be near a crime scene. If your kids are on the list, they'll never have a good job and will be repeatedly arrested no matter what they do or how they live.

        With the stage of our current DNA understanding, this is just another in the long line of pseudo-scientific tests for criminality. Anyone with a good understanding of what DNA is and how it works is going to be highly skeptical. DNA may influence your behavior; it certainly doesn't determine your behavior. But we can expect that the politicians and police won't pay attention to geeky technical skeptics. Not when they've got the latest high-tech excuse to avoid the hard police work and just arrest someone nearby with the wrong DNA. Especially not when the database "proves" that it's mostly the "wrong people" who are criminals, just like we knew all along.

      • by xtracto (837672)
        Nobody thinks their precious little snowflake is going to...

        And that is what is fucking wrong in the UK. You see, kids in the UK are fucking crazy, they are, they are criminals! they are criminals because of two things. First, parents do not give a shit about their kids, and if their kids do something stupid, parents only laugh and say "ooooh look what little Johnny did! he is so cute" the fucktard, and secondly because they have some kind of immunity because they are younger than 18.

        I know because a lot o
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ScrewMaster (602015)
      It doesn't even make sense!

      It's just a wafer-thin excuse to get people accustomed to yet another loss of privacy. I guess they feel that they owe it to the population to give some sort of rationale when they are required to bend over and take it up the ass again. I swear (and the U.S. is no better) these people must have miniscule penises .. sure seems like they're doing a lot of compensation for something.
    • Re:For fuck's sake (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rucs_hack (784150) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:55PM (#22768300)
      It makes sense alright. It's just nasty, and probably pointless.

      Let me describe a parallel for you.

      I used to be a nurse, years ago. After the first year of hospital work it got to the point where I had a very narrow view of society. I mostly saw sick people, so after a while I started to think of everyone outside the hospital in terms of how likely they were to appear in hospital as a result of their behavior or diet. This wasn't a particulerly useful viewpoint, but I still held it.

      I realised this, and it took a long time to get past. Not all the nurses I knew managed this.

      If your life revolves around dealing with people in a particular state, you tend to become very focused on it. To the police, everyone is viewed in terms of how likely they are to be criminals. They can't help it, our society demands it of them (yes indeed, it does, alas).

      I'm more concerned with how much of our taxes this is going to waste before they realise it's pointless.
    • Re:For fuck's sake (Score:5, Insightful)

      by hey! (33014) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @07:23PM (#22768520) Homepage Journal
      This is what you get when you take the normal human tendency to lose sight of the big picture and apply it to public policy.

      I have a friend who is a management consultant. Normally I have not truck with that profession, but he's a really good management consultant, because he's a really good listener. He can listen and listen until you've talked yourself in circles so many times even you realize it. Then he tells you something that would be blindingly obvious to you if you hadn't managed to bury it under tons of mental clutter. In a sense, he specializes in reminding people of the things they shouldn't need a management a consultant to tell them, but somehow they do.

      One of his chief themes has to do with confirmation bias. When people are favoring a course of action, the intended consequences of that course of action are very clear to them, sometimes even exaggerated. The unintended consequences tend to be fuzzy, or maybe even invisible.

      So imagine you are trying to prevent violent crime. It's a very important job that you take seriously. You have the idea that getting DNA from young children with behavior problems and putting them in a database would prevent some violent crimes. And you're probably right: it would prevent some violent crimes, although you might not be able to quantify how many. But it's a sure bet you aren't considering the bad things that might happen as a result of this, much less quantifying those bad things and putting them into the scales against the good you intend. In fact, where you really go wrong is when you start to think of it, unconsciously of course, in personal terms. People who are pointing out bad things (which you are not prepared to believe) about your plan are trying to stop you from preventing violent crimes. So they must be bad people. Certainly not somebody you'd seriously listen to.

      It's childish thinking of course, but are any of us completely above it? Mark Twain once said,"It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so." But I'd go farther; It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble; it's what you know but are too proud to be reminded of.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by operagost (62405)
      It's much better in the USA. We just medicate our weird kids here!
  • by siriuskase (679431) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:36PM (#22768126) Homepage Journal
    The UK has problems if anyone in power takes this police request seriously. God, I hope it isn't that bad. Five year olds? Do all five year olds who act out become criminals?
    • by SpottedKuh (855161) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:42PM (#22768184)

      Do all five year olds who act out become criminals?

      There are five-year-olds who don't act out?

      • by ortholattice (175065) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @08:28PM (#22768994)

        Do all five year olds who act out become criminals?
        There are five-year-olds who don't act out?

        I know you're just following the current trend, but ever since my son was small, it's annoyed me when teachers, school psychologists, pc moms, etc. use "acting out" to describe "acting up", in other words just plain bad behavior that needs to be corrected. "Acting out" means (Wikipedia) "to perform an action to express (often unconscious) emotional conflicts," and carries the subtle connotation that due to bad "parenting", the child has "issues" that the child expresses by "acting out" and needs to "resolve".

        Sometimes 5-year-old kids just have too much energy and need to be disciplined or otherwise taught to control or focus their bad, disruptive, silly, destructive, or otherwise inappropriate behavior, and taught to understand when a certain behavior is acceptable and when it isn't. It's that simple and doesn't need weekly psychotherapy sessions. When I was a kid, I never even heard of "acting out". It was "stop acting up and behave yourself."

    • Now, if we were talking two year olds here, I could see it. Most parents wish they could lock their two-year-olds up 'til they grow out of it.
  • by 3seas (184403) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:36PM (#22768130) Journal
    the fundamental problem with the collection and access to personal identifying information is twofold.

    one is that it can start an unfair judgment on a person that can follow them unfairly thru their life.
    Wasn't it Einstein whos teacher said he would never be any good at math?

    If you don't fit what is considered the norm by the party making the judgement then its ok to abuse you?

    And what of the information tied to the personal identifying data? We are human and fully capable of being corrupt or in error and using such information against a person, wrongly.
  • by Chairboy (88841) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:36PM (#22768136) Homepage
    When you treat children as criminals, they'll be hard pressed to avoid meeting your expectations.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 16, 2008 @07:00PM (#22768340)
      That's the first thing I thought, too. I remember reading about a study someone did on this once. I can't recall all the details, but it went something like this: The researcher went to a classroom of elementary school children and told their teacher that, based on some sort of test, certain children were predispositioned to be intellectual 'bloomers,' whereas others, well, weren't as bright.
       
      Well, the test the kids were given to determine their potential was bogus. Who would bloom and who wouldn't were chosen at random. But, at the end of the year, the kids who were supposed to be smart were scoring higher than the others, despite the fact that they were chosen at random. Subtle social forces affected them that much.
       
      Moral of the story is to beware of self fulfilling prophecies. If you treat someone like they might be a criminal, they most likely will. And, of course, people will just say that's proof of the program working.
       
      Hey, wasn't Einstein a problem child? Didn't work out too bad for him.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by slyn (1111419)
        I don't know who modded this down, but it is true. The details might not be exactly right, but effectively that is what happens. Kid's told they are smart do better, and kids told they are dumb do worse. It would be like if your first post on /. was modded +5 insightful or -1 troll. If you get modded highly chances are your going to continue to comment and read the website, but if your first post gets modded to oblivion and everyone flames you for it you might say "this is stupid, fuck those nerds" or some
      • by FailedTheTuringTest (937776) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @08:03PM (#22768828)
        This is called the Pygmalion effect [wikipedia.org]. The test results change the teacher's expectations, and the teacher's expectations influence the kids' future performance. It has also been shown that teachers have different expectations of children based on race and sex, which affect children's performance as they fulfill these expectations. But it's a widespread phenomenon outside the classroom as well.
  • What if this follows the same rules as most juvenile records? I know in the states, you get a "second chance" of sorts when you become an adult.

    If they're truly criminals, you'd just recollect the sample when they commit another crime, but you still get the DNA and the scare-the-bad-out-of-them factor.

    Now, if cloning is involved...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by EdIII (1114411) *
      Your missing the point, and I can see a lot of people modding you down for it too, even though your questions are fair.

      You are relying on, and trusting the governments. They have demonstrated that they cannot be trusted. Reconcile that.

      Furthermore, how does one judge the "potential" of a five-year old child? Scare-The-Bad-Out-Of-Them factor? Do you have kids? A five year old can be yelled at repeatedly for a minutes till they are crying and they will perform exactly the same act 10 minutes later. Bill
  • Face it, complete DNA sampling of the population is inevitable.

    Mind you, I have to ask - if they are so worried about a 5 year old turning into a criminal, why not spend the money sorting the kid out while there 5 rather than dealing with their adult crime?

    • Re:Inevitability (Score:4, Insightful)

      by esocid (946821) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:48PM (#22768234) Journal
      Because that is too much of a hippy attitude for this fascist type of thinking. Why bother rehabilitating when you can weed out the ones you think will do something illegal or challenge authority. Which also begs the question what other type of abuse could this DNA sampling be used for? This is one hell of a slippery slope that would be very easily abused. Just think if insurance companies ever got a chance to examine your DNA for diseases which you may be predispositioned for and charged you according to what you rank on their scale, or even refused to allow you to buy insurance. I'm just blown away that someone would even come out and say something like this, much less from someone in such a position of authority.
  • by esocid (946821) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:40PM (#22768164) Journal
    Is this guy serious?

    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
    So this guy wants basically wants thoughtcrimes to be illegal. This completely reeks of 1984 and I would hate to see this come true and create a terrible precedent where your DNA is taken at birth and your DNA is examined for "potential markers" of a criminal. I know that is a stretch but who ever thought that this would ever happen, and much less even be suggested? I seriously hope this man gets called out for being his nefarious attitude for society and this suggestion gets tossed into the shitter.
    • by Deanalator (806515) <pierce403@gmail.com> on Sunday March 16, 2008 @07:08PM (#22768408) Homepage
      If this guy wants to stop criminals before they commit crimes, my suggestion is that they take some money from their obviously over budgeted police force, and invest more into their school system.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Yeah - basically, as worried as anyone was about fascism and sympathizers in the UK in the years leading up to WWII or the dislike of Thatcher among many, it seems like it's going to end up being the supposedly leftist Labor party along with the bureaucrats who are going to really move the police state forward. Remember, folks, they're just protecting you, the Queen's loyal Subjects. And before anyone claims that "police state" is harsh, remember that tailoring a society to the needs of the police is, in fa
  • by clare-ents (153285) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:40PM (#22768170) Homepage
    Providing we do the parents too, the GCSE science project of 'how much dna do I share with my parents' should be awesome fun.
  • by CrazyJim1 (809850) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:42PM (#22768186) Journal
    I know someone who was in prison for a non-felony, got a job through a temp agency was a great worker for Amerigas that people enjoyed. When his temp agency stint was up, they were to consider him for an official hire. Problem? Oh he was a criminal once so even though he was a great worker, they fired him, and wouldn't rehire him through the temp agency.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Same here!! I was remanded for sometime without conviction now getting a Job has proven extremely difficult this has been the case for over 4 years. So I say fuck'em all if you want my talents wasted then so be it I now enjoy the luxury of 4 state benefits and have applied for many more not to mention the other benefits of being unemployed free rent,dentist and where I live free electricity and heating all in all about 10% better off than being employed. Now don't get me wrong I also WORK! ha its great fuck
      • by ckaminski (82854)
        I've always believed that if a criminal served their time, not just on parole, they should get their rights back.

        Perhaps it straightens out sentence length, murderers will never get out, people have chance to learn from their mistakes...

        We clear records for minors, why not adults...

        Repeat offenders, well, California has that answer for that.
  • One is compelled to wonder _exactly_ what sort of behavior they are talking about here that might indicate the kids will become criminals later in life.
  • So the police want to use this sort of system as a way of predicting future criminal activity, which may or may not happen, the interpretation of which is by necessity highly subjective, and would represent an open-ended means of "justifying" targeted monitoring of specific individuals before they're even legally considered responsible for themselves? What a fantastic idea! Let's be sure to include ways to hold the parents retroactively responsible for breeding in the first place, or not drugging their chil
  • Taking DNA samples from all children is probably a better and more just solution than taking it only from some. That way, society as a whole has to face GATTACA-like issues. If you only take it from children that show "suspicious" behavior, you know that this is going to result in mostly minority children being stuck in databases, and it means that mostly those kids will be exposed to the risk of false DNA matches.
  • by Lurker2288 (995635) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:47PM (#22768216)
    Maybe someone more knowledgable about forensic genetics can help me here, but my understanding was that at the current level of sophistication, the main value of genetic fingerprinting (which is less specific than full sequencing, but also more robust in the face of contamination, degradation, etc.) was in excluding known suspects (i.e., ruling out the butler) rather than in identifying suspects prospectively (which would be the main reason to set up a database like this). In a country the size of the UK, wouldn't this produce false positives that could be used to argue against the validity of the system?
  • Life imitates Art (Score:2, Interesting)

    by niks42 (768188)
    Did I read somewhere in the article about these five-year olds being evaluated for their future criminal propensity by three submerged psychic women?
  • by Unlikely_Hero (900172) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:49PM (#22768248)
    Looking at the UK it's clear why so many of their youth have alcohol problems; hell, why so much of their society does. When a culture shows their young so much disdain and mistrust it's quite clear why this sort of thing happens.
    If you grew up with people hating you simply because you're a kid how would you react?
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:50PM (#22768252) Homepage
    I have. It doesn't mean that I am bad or have criminal tendancies.

    If you say you have not then you are probably either: utterly boring; or lying.

    All this ''record mistakes and label someone for life'' is stupid. It means that huge numbers are regarded as potential crims and becomes useless.

    George Orewell was wrong - he chose a date 25 years too early.

  • by kentrel (526003) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:50PM (#22768254) Journal
    This is an outrage. Apart from the obvious and genuine privacy concerns here this would do the very opposite to what the ignorant Gary Pugh is expecting. Hasn't he ever heard of a Self fulling prophecy?

    There are many proven psychological reasons [wikipedia.org] why this would cause a vast amount of harm to the development of these children This article [wvu.edu] especially illustrates published studies that showed the effect of positive and negative expectation has on children's academic performance
  • Fucked up kids? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by xZgf6xHx2uhoAj9D (1160707) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @06:58PM (#22768320)

    I'd like to get in before too many people start throwing around the term "1984" as if this had anything but the most tenuous connection to the book 1984. Have any of you actually read the book? Not every erosion of privacy is "1984", you know.

    Sigh. Anyway. The matter at hand.

    I am a former criminal myself, so this matter hits close to home. When I was in my adolescence, I was arrested for breaking and entering, and there was a lot more I did that I didn't get caught for, of course. Not to put too fine a point on it, but I'm quite successful now, if I say so myself. In my opinion, there are two major reasons why I'm not dead or in jail right now: the John Howard Society (prisoner's rights organization in the Commonwealth), and the Young Offender's Act (which helps keeps the under-18 out of jail).

    Being branded as a "criminal" is a big deal. Through the two entities I just mentioned, I spent less than a day in jail and got mandatory counselling and restitution in lieu. I think one of the biggest factors in me turning my life around is that I wasn't branded for the rest of my life. I don't have a record; I don't have to report myself to neighbours. I'm just a regular citizen. It's quite empowering being a regular, fruitful citizen.

    What I'm getting at is, even though I avoided it, I recognize the power of stigma. Even if there aren't any concrete restrictions on these kids, just knowing that you're one of the "bad kids" will fuck you up for life. There's no way these kids aren't going to find out they're one of the "bad kids", and once you're branded, it's a really hard uphill battle to get out of that stigma. Everyone looks at them differently; everyone treats them differently. I wouldn't envy them.

    Please, won't somebody think of the children?!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by ckaminski (82854)
      I've read 1984... several times in fact. One of the largest themes of the novel was living in a surveillance society, not private, but government mandated. Each TV was both a publisher and a recorder of what was before it. The other big theme was people betraying those who expressed concepts against INGSOC.

      This is pretty damn contemporary with 1984, think.
  • by elh_inny (557966) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @07:05PM (#22768386) Homepage Journal
    I currently working on my Masters Thesis, touching, among other things on issues related to totalitarian societies.
    Even very quick research shows that Great Britain already resembles the grim visions of '1984', 'Brasil' or 'A Clockwork Orange'.
    CCTV is widespread, despite showing little or no effect on stopping crime, its usage is spreading.
    Old people are already testing the high-frequency buzzers, to annoy and scare teenagers (it's a prime example of being guilty by default).
    A visit to any UK international airport terminal leaves no doubt either - you are a dangerous terrorist until proven otherwise.

    And now this, which isn't really new either, just a development on what's been going on for some quite time already.

    And worst of all, most UK (or US for that matter) citizens don't seem to mind or care. This is very much reminiscent of a pre-WWII Germany.

    I don't mean to sound radical or anything, but remember:
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"
  • Sigh..... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IHC Navistar (967161) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @07:49PM (#22768706)
    Whatever happened to *REAL* police work? Every time they come up with some way to "control/solve" crimes, it winds up being a way to make the job of a cop as easy as pushing a button. Plus, it turns into something that is wayyy more intrusive, as if everybody is a criminal (or potential criminal, in this case):

    1) CCTV cameras lining city streets.
    2) Self-defense devices (Handguns, knives, tasers, stun guns, pepper spray) are either illegal or heavily regulated to the point where they are defacto illegal.
    3) RFID tags in Passports can be used to track whereabouts of the holder.
    4) Automated toll tags (like FasTrack) record road/bridge uses.
    5) Traffic Cameras automatically cite "violators", doing the job of the police officer instead.

    Why don't cops spend time tracking ACTUAL CRIMINALS and solving ACTUAL CRIMES, instead of grouping everyone together and tracking them as "potential criminals" and waiting for potential crimes?
     
  • by memorycardfull (1187485) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @07:53PM (#22768740)
    It is easier to take people's rights away when they are children and have limited rights to begin with. It makes perfect sense to me.
  • Logic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @08:02PM (#22768824)
    The logical place to collect DNA is during the metabolic screening ALL children undergo near birth (at least in developed nations), looking for diseases such as PKU, hypothyroidism, and around 16 other metabolic conditions. If you've got the blood already, it's just a case of adding a step in the process. Then you would get everyone, and wouldn't be singling people out using COMPLETELY unscientific "profiling" techniques.

    Hey I used to be a real brat - even stabbed another 6 year old in the knee with a pen because he was bugging me too much. I remember punching someone out at 7 for trying to bully me. He lost a tooth, if I recall. I can still see him crying on the floor of the gym, blood all over his mouth. That felt good. Boy did I get into trouble. But he left me alone. I rarely did my homework, as a teenager I often cut classes. I started smoking at 14. I used marijuana at that age too. Wow, quite the little "criminal" I was shaping up to be. Did I mention I started raiding my dad's liquor cabinet at age 9, and his porn collection at age 11?

            Funnily enough, now at 40 years old I have no criminal record, my biggest "crime" has been the odd speeding ticket, and as a successful doctor I actually save a few lives and make my corner of the world (hopefully) a better place. I wonder how the shrinks would explain THAT one. Oh - perhaps it's because psychology is not "scientific" at all? "It sounds good" does not make a theory true. Oh yeah wait I must be the "false positive" right? Exactly how many false positives are we going to get? And why should people pay for this?
  • So what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @08:36PM (#22769034) Homepage
    The police want to do crazy things all the time. Mostly to make their jobs easier (and, to be fair... almost every profession is guilty of this to an extent).

    Fortunately for us, most nations today heavily regulate their police force, and control their government through a voting parliamentary body, along with a system of checks and balances.

    If this notion gained the support of a large portion of parliament or the population at large, it would be legitimate cause for concern. Fortunately for us, this is not the case.

    Come on slashdot. Prove that you're better than some Left-Wing version of Fox news, and stop posting flamebaited articles that have little to no real significance.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by nevali (942731)
      You obviously missed the last eight-ten years of British political history, then.

      When it comes to oppressive ideas in the name of preventing crime (or even better, use the word "terrorism"), two of the three main political parties in the UK are happy to lap up whatever crazy idea ACPO will come up with.

      Fortunately, we also have the Lords: it seems bizarre to many people, but many of those in the Lords have no real political agenda, because they're there not as a career choice, but as a product of circumstan
  • Nature vs. nurture (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Dzimas (547818) on Sunday March 16, 2008 @09:31PM (#22769344)

    I suspect that a DNA database of "future possible offenders" would be skewed heavily toward children of lower income families with substandard educational background and a history of breaking the law. No one is going to swab a DNA sample of a member of the royal family or the children of the rich and privileged because they'd scream bloody murder. In other words, the database be a misguided attempt to explain societal ills through physiology. We've been down this road before and the result has often been mass genocide as "superior" individuals deem it time to cleanse the world of "inferior" folk.

    Besides, a database of likely offenders will not do anything to prevent a crime. It will simply provide a pool of high-risk individuals that the police will regard with greater suspicion after the event. The legal system has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to wrongfully convict people because of prejudice, sloppy police work and a poor representation. What chance does an innocent kid have if he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and has already been labeled as genetically dangerous in the police database?

  • A few thoughts (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jandersen (462034) on Monday March 17, 2008 @04:00AM (#22770940)
    - amidst all the lame jokes and the general mistrust Americans have to government.

    Society, when you get right down to the bare bones of it, is a simple extension of the primitive 'clan' that we know from the other apes, especially the chimpanzees. A group like that is only stable if the members trust each other at some fundamental level. Yes, there will be squabbles and cliques, and they may steal from each other and bully the weakest, but everybody has a fundamental trust in the group, which they don't have in strangers. The same is true about human society - it is built on trust; if this trust is lacking in a society, it will simply fall apart. Perhaps this is happening in America? I don't know, but seeing that America is still one nation I'd say that the fundamental trust is still in place.

    Anyway - the question about DNA is one about trust. The government is irrelevant here, governments change all the time, at least every four years; but the people around you don't - the people who will have accecss to your information will be more or less the same. If you trust the society you live in, you shouldn't really mind letting others know your DNA. Having everybody's DNA profile, and indeed all other personal information, in one, central database does offer some objective benefits. It will be a lot easier to identify a person, of course, and it would potentially be possible to identify a number of disease risks etc. On the downside is the fact that not all members of society are worthy of such trust, and they will use this information to exploit people.

    I'm am not wise enough to see whether the benefits are great enough to justify the risks; but that is what it all boils down to: trust or no trust.

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