back to article Scotland Yard criminologist: DNA-print troublemaker kids

A top UK police forensics official has suggested that DNA signatures be taken from children as young as five, if the kids in question were thought likely to become criminals in future. Scotland Yard forensics and criminology chief Gary Pugh landed the police service in hot water at the weekend by suggesting that it's easy to …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Is that the sound...

    of Jack boots matching from the Met.....

  2. Mark

    Someone send him

    a copy of Gattaca.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    *sigh*

    There's no emoticon for what I'm feeling!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Well, then...

    ...if you're going to go this far, why not just print everyone in any family under a certain income level? That tends to correlate, too, on a broad scale. People with tons of money don't go around mugging other people, after all.

    And then it obviously makes sense to do regular checkups on said poor people, and let employers know so they can keep tabs, too...

    Dystopian indeed.

  5. Jamie
    Linux

    Be afraid, be very afraid

    So the gov't that cannot currently hold on to the personal information they already have about us, seek to increase this information to help solve crimes that may happen.

    Only a couple of more years and you will be able to be sent to prison for thinking of a crime, wait they already do that.

  6. Tony Barnes

    Tough one..

    The morality of this is a difficult one - as trampling on the rights of the few, would probably give a better life for the the many.

    I'm on the police database following a slight conviction that I couldn't be bothered fighting against - I had done something silly, and though I could of gotten off scot free, I didn't feel I deserved to, so let them proceed. Net result is that whilst previously I was never a master criminal, I had a more "adventurous" mind so to speak, whilst now I am very conscious of the fact that anything bad that I do is easily traceable.

    So now I keep myself very much on the right side of the law, and feel good for it - maybe it would be sufficient incentive for the "yoof trublerz" of today...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    11+ Exams & Vigilantes

    We had Grammar schools at 11+. It was based on a theory that by 11 it was detectable whether they'd succeed or fail in their education later in life. However it was later shown to be false, and indeed you can fail your 11+ exam and do well in later education and vice versa, indeed it was very common! Worse still, by putting them into crap schools they increased the overall number of failures. i.e. Educate people as though they're stupid and you make them stupid.

    Now someone is saying you can detect *precrime* by 5 and these toddlers should be raised as the criminals they will turn out to be in order to correct the crimes you hypothesize they will commit in future. Which of course will make them into the criminals you hypothesize they are already. Whenever you treat people like shit they treat you like shit in return.

    So who is the biggest threat to society in the coming years? Well I vote Gary Pugh as the candidate for that, because he's aiming to take steps that will create criminals in coming years and he's in the unfortunate position to influence thinking.

    I would also seek protection for 5-12 years olds smeared by Pugh's false claims, this is slander and libel and may even border on criminal libel. They have not yet learned the debating skills that will protect them from idiots like Pugh.

    I point out that Pugh shows a lack of empathy with other people and this is indicitive of psychopathy: "a general term for a range of personality disorders characterized by lack of empathy, socially manipulative behavior, and occasionally criminality or violence." as Wikipedia puts it. i.e. he will have a tendency to attack people he views as a potential future criminal, because in his mind he is right and they will go on to commit crimes which he is saving the world from. So should My Pugh be treated for the future crimes he will commit in my theory? I think so based on his theory.

    Plus, I bet he was punk or a mod when he was young. So if we'd caught him when he was young he would have a record that would prevent him becoming the spokesmen for the police, thereby saving us from this drivel.

  8. Emrys Capati
    Alien

    what about the others?

    As far as tagging goes, what about the ones who follow extremely mobile lifestyles... I remember part of a movie called Snatch where it would be easier for the people to just up and move camp if they ever committed a crime.

    The tagging would be pretty much pointless among the usually un-monitored portions of the population anyway.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Why not go the whole hog...

    ...and put any child we suspect MAY become a criminal into juvenile detention - pre-emtive strike, as it were.

    "After all, if it saves just one life it will be worth it"

    Next, they'll be saying that they can screen an unborn foetus for criminal tendencies and advise the mother to abort.

    Coat icon because I'm seriously considering leaving this country for good.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In two minds

    When I initially saw this I must confess I found myself thinking 'that's a good idea'.

    The problem however is it will pave the way for everyone to be catalogued like the nation of crime suspects that the government demonstrably thinks we all are, and that's just unacceptable.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    The problem is...

    he's bloody right. You can identify potential criminals at a young age. The issue is; should they be placed on the database? Probably not.

    You could argue however, that their parent(s) should be added for not bringing up their little oiks proper[sic]. So there's an incentive to bring up your spawn in a socially acceptable manner, and in the event of you failing, your DNA is added to the database. Now my understanding of DNA is weak at best however surely when your cute bundle of joy mugs a grandma on the high street and leaves a nice sample of HIS(HER) DNA via spitting etc. there's enough of a similarity to link a relationship and hence catch the little scamp.

    There are some truly awful parents who raise some truly awful children, that's the issue that needs addressing.

    /Mine's the one with the cotton mouth swabs in the pocket.

  12. 3x2

    And this boys and girls...

    is why we don't want HMP UK. A country where "you just haven't been caught yet".

    I don't think you can ignore Sci-Fi type predictions for the future of this technology quite so quickly. Once we have a national "all in" register don't tell me we won't be reading about one report after another claiming to have identified the "X" gene. The Child molester gene, violent offender correlations, whatever is this weeks flavour of un-desirable.

    If you really can predict a childs future and still do nothing about it then there is something seriously wrong with your culture.

  13. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    He thinks he is original?

    He should think again - many others in the past have come up with ingenious ways of solving crime, before it begins, so to say...

    Burning at a stake, sterilising parents, concentration camps - all have been tried before. After all, the Nazies were unsurpassed masters of biometrics - forget about fingerprints, they could tell whether you (and your offspring) will be of any use to the Vaterland just by measuing the distance between your ears...

    All these methods had a couple of things in common - they didn't work and they backfired big time.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ AC

    "I would also seek protection for 5-12 years olds smeared by Pugh's false claims, this is slander and libel and may even border on criminal libel. They have not yet learned the debating skills that will protect them from idiots like Pugh."

    I assume you mean "to single children out in this way would be slander and libel" rather than "this is", as "Pugh's false claims" at this stage are just a generalised comment that certain kids may grow up to be criminals - which isn't actionable as it's not aimed at named individuals.

    I propose a law that says non-lawyers may not make claims about the legality or otherwise of current affairs matters discussed in the press, as reading the tediously ill-informed constant "I know my rights/this is illegal/they're breaching [some act I half know the name of]/you could sue them for that" nonsense that the internet has enabled is really wearing thin.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Tony Barnes, Many vs Few

    "The morality of this is a difficult one - as trampling on the rights of the few, would probably give a better life for the the many."

    Probably? No, almost certainly the opposite!

    He'll single out a group, attack that group and thereby create the criminals he hypothesizes they are. In his theory you can 'unmake' criminals by 'treatment', but you cannot 'make' criminals by 'mistreatment'.

    But all the false positives are being unjustly mistreated.

    So in his view it does not matter how many false positives he's mistreating because his attack cannot do harm. (lack of empathy... he can see how attacks on himself can do harm, but not attacks on others, ergo he needs to be protected in society from people like him = psychotic behaviour).

    Can you *stop* children off on a life of crime, if you can't also *start* them off on a life of crime? And wouldn't you feel more likely to punch a copper who'd punched you? (Why do you think we have words like 'revenge' in our language!).

    Likewise if you'd endured a childhood of being treated like a criminal are you more or less likely to become a criminal?

    It should be clear he's a dangerous nutter, we have fundamental rights to protect us against such nutters.

  16. dan russell
    Unhappy

    if this goes ahead

    it's time to take to the barricades

    http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/unhappy_32.png

    Unhappy

  17. Andy S

    silly thought

    "If you DNA-print kids with a history of vandalism or anti-social behaviour"

    but why not actually do something useful about kids with a history of vandalism or anti-social behaviour, like disqualify them from claiming benefits when they grow up, or cancelling their parents benefits, remove them from the NHS etc. The only people who are in a solid position to control children and guide their upbringing are their parents. So there needs to be some way of making them care about what their kids do.

    At the moment they seem to be proud of their kids going out and mugging people, and there's nothing the police can really do if the parents don't care.

  18. Grant
    Dead Vulture

    I hate to suggest a politition may be right but...

    "mixing up his biting dystopian commentary with his sci-fi just a tad, we suggest." Just because 1984 is dystopian commentary does not mean it is not science fiction.

  19. Anton Ivanov

    Re: Tough one..

    Quote: maybe it would be sufficient incentive for the "yoof trublerz" of today...

    No it will not. One the main reasons for them to be troublerz in the first place is the total disconnect between offence and punishment. They are not afraid to get caught, they simly do not care.

    Further to this, if all plods start collecting DNA evidence it will not be long before a string of failures due to contaminated material will discredit the entire technique.

  20. Gregg Iceton
    Thumb Up

    How is DNA profiling in itself a bad thing ?

    Putting all secondary issues to one side, every man + dog should be DNA profiled. Why? We live in a world where people think it is acceptable to kidnap a young girl and hide her in a bed. I defy any of you to tell me that is acceptable. People should be scared to commit serious crime becuase they know they will be caught. Enter DNA profiling.

    Now, if we're going to talk about database security that's a seperate issue. Let's not forget that.

    As for those who will bleat about invasions of privacy, you haven't got a point. How is someone knowing the structure of your DNA invading your ability to maintain a private life? It doesn't. This fear is based on complete mis-information, in a similar manner to people who believe if they eat a GM crop the might somehow absorb the modification. When asked why the same person can eat Beef and not turn into a Cow, they invariably are stumped.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Slander and Libel, Irony

    'I assume you mean "to single children out in this way would be slander and libel" rather than "this is", as "Pugh's false claims" at this stage are just a generalised comment that certain kids may grow up to be criminals - which isn't actionable as it's not aimed at named individuals.'

    At *this* stage?

    So you agree it would be at a *later* stage (since you had to put the qualifier in). Cool, lets just keep it as this stage, when it's just an idiot mouthing off at a conference.

    Irony....

    Pugh wants people to be judged based on their statistical liability to commit a future crime, but you don't want HIM JUDGED by a crime he seeks to commit.

    At this stage, I would agree with you, lets just keep it at the idiot mouthing off at a conference stage and not go on to sack him just for attacking the basis of our judicial system. (The innocent until proven guilty basis and the fundamental right of no punishment without judicial process).

    He's innocent until he's proven guilty.

  22. Mike Richards Silver badge

    Announcing e-phrenology.com

    Okay who's up for creating a start-up?

    The pitch is that parents / social workers / the rozzers can send in pictures of kids and we'll use a biometric / neural net / [insert cool tech name here] approach to examine the shape of their skull and categorise the little horrors into one of a number of fields.

    Within moments, any child can be tagged for life as a good citizen or criminal scum.

    I think we should get a top-notch board of executive directors including Gary Bushell and at least one former Home Secretary. The whole thing can be marketed with a charming animated Artful Dodger 'Oi'd have been on the straight an' narrow if that nice Mister Blunkett had felt me bumps!'

    The next stage, a huge Home Office contract under their 'Building an Orwellian Tomorrow' outreach scheme.

    So who's in?

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Stop

    @ Gregg Iceton

    Are you Chris Morris?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I'm a crim.

    Or least I probably would have been had this been in in the 60's.

    Mind you, upto age 5 I was a little goody goody. Navy brat, moved around a bit and pretty strict parents.

    from age10/11 changed to a little bastard, expelled from school, always in trouble for nicking stuff from shops, a bit of vandalism (not on the scale it seems to be today though) etc.

    Then at 15 joined the Army and now a pillar of society!!

    Had I been "branded" at 5 or later at 10 then god only knows what would have happened but there is a good possibility I would have said "fuck it" if they think I am a baddun then so be it.

    @Gregg Iceton.

    What total and utter b.s. A DNA database would not have stopped the kidnapping of a girl (recently) and would not have solved it earlier unless there was DNA evidence at the scene of the crime (don't believe there was)

    Invasion of privacy. Of course it is and if you can't see why then you are a bigger prat than those in authority who are persuing these policies.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ the liberal PC nutters

    They should live where I do and watch the liitle toe rags grow up from little fuckers aged 5 who toss bricks through peoples windows, to big fuckers aged 18 who follow the brick to nick stuff to pay for their drugs habbit.

    Unfortunately their is no punishment. They know that they can do what they like and get away with it.

  26. b
    Flame

    It's been said before but it bears repeating..

    You'll get my DNA of my cold, dead body.

  27. The Other Steve
    Flame

    @Gregg Iceton

    Dear Daily Mail Reader,

    "Putting all secondary issues to one side, every man + dog should be DNA profiled. Why? We live in a world where people think it is acceptable to kidnap a young girl and hide her in a bed. I defy any of you to tell me that is acceptable. People should be scared to commit serious crime becuase they know they will be caught. Enter DNA profiling."

    And I defy you to give me an example of how DNA profiling would have been in any way useful in the case to which you are alluding. Clue : It wouldn't. Better clue : Case successfully resolved, child safe, perp in custody, no DNA required.

    "As for those who will bleat about invasions of privacy, you haven't got a point."

    Have so.

    "How is someone knowing the structure of your DNA invading your ability to maintain a private life? It doesn't."

    Since DNA is the chemical template for my entire organism, I fail to see your point that having it sampled and on file is NOT an invasion of my privacy. Sure, it doesn't stop me from having a private life, I can still bum rent boys if I choose to do so. Doesn't stop it from being a vile and invasive practice though (that's the DNA database, not the bumming)

    "This fear is based on complete mis-information,"

    a) be careful with statements like that when you engage technical professionals.

    b) what, you mean like your next sentence ?

    "in a similar manner to people who believe if they eat a GM crop the might somehow absorb the modification. When asked why the same person can eat Beef and not turn into a Cow, they invariably are stumped."

    Well, I'm stumped, stumped as to how you got from "Total DNA profiling is not an invasion of privacy" to "It's just like eating GM beef". And stumped as to why someone with your obviously towering intellect would hang out with such a bunch of morons, unless you met them in the Daily Mail's interactive forums, of course.

    You are clearly rather confused. About several things, including why you shouldn't allow the machinery of a totalitarian state to be erected around you while you blather on about "Nothing To Hide, Nothing To Fear" with your fellow DM reading pond scum.

    The people who ticked the box labelled "Jewish" on the German census of 1939 probably felt the same, and it didn't work out particularly well for them. And lets not forget that their plight was ignored for a long time, because no one, even the people who were engaged in a bloody great brutal shooting war with them, believed for a minute that the German state could do something so utterly horrible.

    Your argument is intellectually bankrupt and incoherent, please try again.

  28. Jamie
    Linux

    @ greg iceton

    So do you then agree with what happened to the Jews and other minorities during the late 30's early 40's.

    All the original policies were brought in to protect the public, don't think that really happened.

    My issue is that if say I am a political dissident, they have my info on a db and when I am covered out making a protest over toletarian (probably spelt wrong) rules being brought in or a book I have purchased or checked out they can then use my DNA to track me down and jail me. Sound a bit too far fetched for you. Take a look around as it is currently happening here, in the land of the free, and the great white north.

  29. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    @Gregg Iceton

    "We live in a world where people think it is acceptable to kidnap a young girl and hide her in a bed."

    And which world do you think your father lived in? And your grand father? And grand grand father?

    Oh, I'm sure in Chingiz Khan's time it was totally unacceptable - they had no beds, to start with!

    And in the case of that particular girl how exactly did DNA profiling helped find her?

    Most "pedofiles", for your information, are otherwise exemplary citizens without any history of violence and crime.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nostrapughness

    "Why? We live in a world where people think it is acceptable to kidnap a young girl and hide her in a bed."

    If only Mr Pugh had had his way in the past, he could prevent this! In fact, he could prevent lots of things, oh why in the world do people not listen to Nostrapughness and his 20-20 foresight?

    Are Mr Pughs spidey senses tingling? Does his charts foretell of a future kidnapping? We need to consult Nostrapughness immediately to find out who to prepunish for the future crimes that only he, Mr Pugh can foretell.

    Computer says no.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Tony Barnes

    "The morality of this is a difficult one - as trampling on the rights of the few, would probably give a better life for the the many."

    No, the morality of that is not difficult. If you think that trampling on peoples' rights is OK just because there aren't that many of them, you need to rethink your morals.

    Some of the other posters here are downright terrifying. Take healthcare away from kids with parents who have been in trouble? What in God's name are you smoking, people?!

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Let's just get it over with ...

    Barcode at birth, or why not just tattoo a unique number code on everyone's wrist.

    Mines the one with the pink triangle on the back.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @ Greg

    I suggest you do a bit of research on the odd's of matching profile.

    You use the usual high profile scare case scare tatics. One problem, there will be several thousand people with a similar profile to that of the person who held her.

    I hope it's yours, then when arrested and released, the local malitia (AKA concerned parents), get wind that you were arrested and releases, despite your DNA matching that of said kidnapper.

    You will then be beaten, your house burnt down and your life ruined for good.

    Won't happen?

    Already has.

    The Sun a few years ago released the name of a known paedo and that is exactly what happend. The problem? He was totally innocent, just happend to have the same name.

  34. A J Stiles
    Stop

    @ Gregg Iceton

    Have you curtains at your bedroom and bathroom windows?

    Do you put letters in envelopes?

    Have you ever uttered the phrase "I just want to be alone with my thoughts" ?

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    I'm all for the idea

    You could add some simple psychological stress tests for young and not so young adults and remove the 3-4% percent of sociopaths from society ASAP, put them in a nice little home on an isolated Island surveilled by predator drones.

    Of course, you would get rid of large swath of the political glitterati and a bunch of civil serpents in the same sweep (not to mention Internet trolls and other various riffraff), but you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, can you?

    Mine's the long black leather one with the Passierschein in the left pocket.

  36. Joe
    Boffin

    Profiling is not the problem

    I agree with the general idea that collecting DNA from innocents to stop crime before it happens is a bad idea. The thing I don't get is WHY things are so cushy for the scumbags who commit crime? TV's, Playstations, Pool Tables.....If you are convicted and sentenced for a crime, you have to pay a punishment, not chill out in a cell like it was your bedroom at home! I have a 'friend' who told me the other day why he doesn't fear prison anymore, because you get to watch TV, Exercise and drugs are easier to come by in prison than on the street....If you make people fear prison, surely this would have more of an effect! 23 Hour lock down and an empty cell so you can sit there bored out of your mind and think what a fucking asshole you have been!!!!! Maybe that would get better results! Oh and before anyone jumps in with Human Rights, sorry but if you kidnap, rape, murder etc someone, you sign away your human rights like you did to the victim when you committed your crime!

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "hide her in a bed"

    "We live in a world where people think it is acceptable to kidnap a young girl and hide her in a bed. I defy any of you to tell me that is acceptable."

    I haven't really followed that story, but would DNA have made any difference here?

    I don't think that behaviour is acceptable, and I'm sure that most people wouldn't, BUT, was it not resolved through neighbours and others speaking to the police, and thus ensuring the abductors discovery?

    If DNA sampling becomes more common, surely it will simply "up" the level of preparation that criminals need to go through - Gone are the days of a pair of gloves and a stocking on the head, now we will see the advent of full body shaves, sterile jumpsuits, and quite possibly, getting your accomplice to hoover you in order to remove any other teltale dna evidence before "the big job". And let's not forget the old favourite of planting some muppets discarded fag butts and stray hairs at the scene to give the Police an instant culprit.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sure they can have my DNA...

    ...and whatever other information the sad little muppets want - with the exception of ANY money or assetts (robbing the dead, sorry "inheritance tax" - how grotesque) when I'm dead, and not before. I will happily spend some (more) time at `her majesties pleasure` if needs be, it's really not so bad. Everything is paid for, and you get to meet some very interesting characters, plus it it wonderful if you like to have peace and quiet in which to study. Build more prisons boys, you're gonna need them.

  39. Spleen

    Nineteen Eighty-Four

    is not only science fiction, but the best science fiction book ever written. Just because there's no laser guns doesn't mean it's not SF - and besides, 1984 does actually feature yet-to-be-invented technologies which are a cornerstone of the dystopia (the telescreens which allow universal surveillance, and the Floating Fortresses - gigantic impregnable battleships - which protect the dystopia from outside interference). It fits pretty much every definition of SF you can think of.

    Anyway, having done with the pedantry, here's your open debate, Mr Pugh: no. No. No no no no no. If you treat people like criminals, they're likely to become them. If DNA helps prevent crime, then why isn't Britain the safest country in the world, since we have the largest DNA database?

  40. Chris
    Dead Vulture

    Re: Grant

    > "mixing up his biting dystopian commentary with his sci-fi just a tad, we suggest."

    > Just because 1984 is dystopian commentary does not mean it is not science fiction.

    1984 *was* science fiction. Today 1984 is a commentary of life in 5-10 years time.

  41. Chris
    Joke

    Eugenics is the answer

    Clearly we can't have pre-five year-olds committing 'crime' either so the best thing we can do is stop their parents from having children at all.

    There is clear evidence that where a parent has done time any offspring will do too. I rest my case m'lud!

    BTW Joke Alert icon just in case someone believes this could be solution. Trying to predict an individual's influence from/on society is futile.

  42. Mark

    Re: The problem is...

    AC, the problem with that reasoning is that it is only half the equation. You get nearly the same accuracy of detection if you just assume ALL are criminals.

    I.e. you can MIS-IDENTIFY criminals at an early age.

    You forgot that bit.

  43. DR

    it's that old if you've got nothing to hide thing again

    if you've got nothing to hide then there's no problem right?

    I don't plan on commiting a crime. so I don't mind if my DNA goes on record.

    and maybe if there was everyones DNA on record it'd stop people raping other/committing crimes that leave DNA evidence.

    preention is better than cure right?

  44. Mark

    @Gregg Iceton

    Apart from the others' valid appraisal of why this is bad, another reason this is bad is because of the disparity of powers in the system.

    Think about it.

    If you're accused of a criminal act, you get your DNA taken.

    MPs have been accused of criminal acts with regards to Honours for Cash. Including the PM.

    Is Tony's DNA on the database?

    A company will be able to ask for your DNA profile and how it ranks for bad behaviour.

    Will you be able to get the DNA profile of the CEO/BoD for the company hiring you to see if there's a tendency to defraud in their profile?

    When it comes to the NIR, your information will be there and any government department (and any MP, policeman, TVLA officer, bank employee...) will be able to access your information stored to see if you're a risk.

    Will you get access to their information?

    DNA registration will only be benign if EVERYONE gets on there and EVERYONE gets access. That won't happen. Because, for example, there will be employees of the government pretending to be someone else. Does their DNA match? Yes? You've got a spy.

    This is why "if you have nothing to hide" doesn't work. Ask your local MI5 head to give out their secrets and you suddenly hear that there are things to hide and you shouldn't be asking.

  45. John A Blackley

    Doing a job

    If it is possible to remove the emotion from this argument (and perhaps it's not), we'd see that the gentleman is only proposing something that would make his job easier - his job being solving crimes.

    In order for any society to function peacefully, there has to be a general agreement on rules of behaviour. In the past, in Britain, that agreement was enforced with shame, ostracism and incarceration. (Okay, further back it was enforced with transportation, hanging and amputation but it's my post so I'll pick my timeframe.) Over time and because of prevailing attitudes, shame and ostracism became unworkable and, because of those and a number of other factors, incarceration no longer has much effect on the rule-breakers.

    Another factor in a workable society is an acknowledgement that each person serve a purpose in life greater than themselves. This factor has been eroded by our benefits culture and the aforementioned factors that dispensed with shame and ostracism as controls over bad behaviour.

    So what is a poor copper to do? Society - such as it is today - demands that he reduce crime and catch the crims. However, society no longer takes the part in that process that it used to so Plod is, more and more, left on his own to figure out ways to get the job done. Where society used to provide help with the job, it's no surprise that a policeman would now turn to technology.

    Now few policemen are skilled sociologists and only some are deft politicians. While I agree with the general thought that it's possible to point out a youngster and say that, not only is he/she a bad 'un now but also that he/she will be a bad 'un in future. But that allows no room for the thousands of factors that can change a life and certainly no room for error in judgement.

    So, while the thought might have some merit, speaking it did not. However, all of those who are bleating on this site about 'thought crime' and 1984, in calling for this guy's head for voicing his thoughts are you not guilty of the same crime?

    When we decided - as a society - to give up our responsibility for enforcing our own rules we created the gap into which this guy and people like him are stepping.

  46. Dave
    Thumb Down

    What's the point of profiling the kids?

    Police Work is not an easy job. I do NOT speak from experience.

    It seems to me that this is just a way to make the job easier for the plods. Wait for a crime, find the DNA, lock up the criminal.

    It's one step further on from: Wait for a Crime, look at the pictures, lock up the criminal when someone identifies them.

    I'd prefer: Stop the crimes from happening by having a couple of the UKs finest Boys and Girls in Blue walking the streets looking for trouble and gently persuading any troublemakers to bugger off.

    If the punishments fitted the crime, or rather, if the punishments fitted the fear that the crime creates, then yes, by some quirk of Doublethink, I could possibly, conceivably be persuaded that maybe simplifing the identification of the criminals may not be an absolutely evil thing, but they don't. Fines don't make a positive difference when you're stealing money for food, drink, drugs or whatever in the first place.

    Help, please, I'm turning into my Dad.

  47. Glyn
    Alien

    Major/minor crime

    How often is DNA evidence used to solve minor crimes, it's only ever referred to being used to solve the big serial killer/nutter cases? No-one I know who's been mugged/burgled/etc. has ever had a DNA collected SOCO round.

    What's the cost/benefit analysis on the cost of getting all this data and the benefit of being able to solve a relatively trivial number of big (i.e. reportable on the news for more than 1 day) crimes

    And I've been told this morning that CCTV evidence doesn't count according to the police. Friends car's been getting vandalised so he put a camera on it, the pictures are brilliant and show the miscreant's face quite clearly. According to the plod who came round they don't count even though he recognised the yoof. So anyone who's been convicted on any CCTV evidence should be freed :S

  48. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: it's that old if you've got nothing to hide thing again

    Well, that's watertight, DR. I'd certainly feel a lot safer walking home late at night knowing that the shifty man following me knows he has his DNA on file and therefore will suppress his beastly urges. In fact, when it's warm out I might just head out wearing nothing but some frilly knickers and a smile. Can't wait for the future, me.

    I thought I'd put your email address up here, by the way, that OK with you?

  49. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Major/minor crime

    Actually some bloke went into my flat years ago and nicked my wallet and left a fag butt behind, and the police got him on the DNA from it. So it does happen with small stuff. I was surprised myself that they'd bother, but I suppose it counted as burglary. Impressed they could get it from a dog end, too.

  50. Mark

    @Sarah Bee

    "In fact, when it's warm out I might just head out wearing nothing but some frilly knickers and a smile."

    Awerhrhwhehrrr...

    Sorry, lost control for a minute.

    :-)

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My 2p woth

    Why not just brand potential crims, on the forehead, natch, therefore potential employers can see who to avoid employing (just brush aside any arguments about determinism at this point, it only applies to potential crims after all.) This will save loads of money on the National DNA database and keeps it working smoothly.

    What's that I hear you say?

    It goes like this, the DNA database only works efficiently if it is not full of noise, caused by adding everyone who comes into contact with the law. The more people who have their DNA on the database the less usefull it becomes, this can be seen by looking at Scotland where only convicted crims are on the database and it is far more efficient at solving serious crime than it's English counterpart. So perhaps paradoxically, adding everyone at birth will actually make it more likely that serious criminals will get away with their crimes or at the very lest seriously increase the time taken to arrest them, because of the signal-to-noise ratio/false positives etc.

    So, if you want to catch the crims, only put crims on the database. Easy.

  52. Tony Barnes

    @ David Wiernicki

    My point was that seeing as a minority of the country is set about on doing harm to others, and generally making life less pleasant, for me it figures that a certain percentage of society (the same percentage who take it upon themselves to worsen the lives of the rest of us) shouldn't carry the same privileges that society presents.

    Why should someone who is hell bent on fucking about with other peoples lives get to enjoy all the freedoms that they have had to work for?

    I know it's an incredibly tight line, and in general I am in favour of everyone being equal, but there comes a time when a bit of Animal Farm mentality will push society in the right direction IMO.

    The real issue is how to deal with offenders. Sticking them in an overcrowded jail where they can sit around playing pool and PS games doesn't appear to work. Proper re-introduction to society, at the same time as teaching them the lessons that their parents obviously didn't do a great job of is a better solution. Unfortunately it would cost a fapping fortune.

    Maybe a 3 strikes and you're out scenario like the states would do, except just execute on the third strike - they've already proven by this point that they don't care about society, why should we care about them?? (forget all that "to err is human to forgive is divine crap", I'm talking about when the people in question don't give a shit if they're forgiven or not, and wil just carry on making others lives miserable)

  53. The Other Steve
    Flame

    RE : it's that old if you've got nothing to hide thing again

    DR ? Daily mail Reader ? Crikey you go for ages without seeing any, and then two pop up at once. I presume you're a DM reader or someone of similar comprehension skills, so a repeat, just for you.

    The people who filled in their religion as "Jewish" during the German census in 1939 probably thought that they had nothing to hide, and therefore nothing to fear.

    Millions of them died finding out how wrong they were, no one believed it was happening, because you just don't expect states to do those kinds of things.

    Never, ever, ever allow the machinery of a totalitarian state to be built just because you think that you personally have nothing to hide. What you have to fear is not something that you can decide, it's something that will be decided for you.

    A quick example that may appeal to you. Lets say that at the next election, a militant gay party emerges, and takes the nation by storm. over the next few years they gain in popularity and finally form a government. Drunk with power they covertly hatch a plan to hunt down all heterosexual men and execute them. Or maybe just fine them, if you require something less dramatic.

    Do you have anything to hide now ?

    How about greens ? They want to punish anyone who has driven a certain type of vehicle, consumed a certain type of product ?

    Do you think the state is always a beneficent actor ? Hint : Turn on your TV.

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Alien

    Educate them...

    "i.e. Educate people as though they're stupid and you make them stupid."

    Which is presumably why they now educate everyone as if they are stupid.

  55. A J Stiles

    Eleven Plus

    The problem with the tripartite system was not the theory that by 11 it was detectable whether someone would succeed or fail in their education later in life. The problem was one of chronic underinvestment in Secondary Modern and Vocational schools (possibly exacerbated by the fact that private education is not an automatic disqualification from being an MP; if they never had to eat what they cooked, half this country's problems wouldn't exist).

    As for the idea of "Educate people as though they're stupid and you make them stupid", that is *precisely* what has happened with the Comprehensive Education system. Though I hear it's worse in the USA, where some states have made a law that you can't be marked down if you write something from religious beliefs which disagree with the course syllabus.

    It's just fortunate that really bright kids will always survive in spite of a bad education.

  56. Spleen

    Re: Joe

    "23 Hour lock down and an empty cell so you can sit there bored out of your mind and think what a fucking asshole you have been!!!!! Maybe that would get better results! Maybe that would get better results!"

    It would, if by "get better results" you mean "turn every single jailed criminal into a schizophrenic". Enforced long-term isolation makes the effects of acid and marijuana abuse look like a nice cup of tea. It will literally result in hallucinations within a short space of time, that's how damaging it is to the psyche. Not to mention that the jails are already overcrowded, and huge investment would be required to build your psychopath production factories. Selling the pool table and the TV on eBay will pay for, well, probably one single-occupancy cell for about two days, the rest is coming out of your taxes.

    I wouldn't feel the need to challenge this tabloid ranting if it wasn't for the fact that it's a short step from this man-in-the-pub nonsense to the front page of the Scum and the Daily Heil and from there to a White Paper.

  57. Mark

    @Tony Barnes

    "My point was that seeing as a minority of the country is set about on doing harm to others, and generally making life less pleasant, for me it figures that a certain percentage of society (the same percentage who take it upon themselves to worsen the lives of the rest of us) shouldn't carry the same privileges that society presents."

    Yes, we already do this. It's called "putting people in jail".

    Unfortunately, more laws have been produced so there are as a consequence more criminals to be locked up.

    Now, if someone who is released from jail either still a danger or has not paid their due to society, we shouldn't let them out.

    But if they HAVE paid their debt and/or are no longer a threat, then they should have ALL the rights that other people who have no debt to pay to society or are not a threat to it. I.e. the same rights as us.

  58. ian

    Let's raise a toast to the Chav's DNA

    A finer sight I'll never see,

    British chavs roaming free.

    Its Britain's great good luck

    To 'ave these lads of wit and pluck!

    For they are our posterity,

    These British chavs roaming free.

    In line for the throne after you and me,

    These British chavs roaming free.

    Free, free, roaming free, etc.

    (Sorry, I just came all over dizzy.)

  59. Luther Blissett

    @Sarah Bee the troll

    Some of us are concerned about the slow, on-going, insidious program to demoralize people and make them compliant, so they don't for example organize themselves to march on the House of Commons. It would seem you were de-moralized a long time ago. So what exactly are you doing here?

    Can you guess why the intelligensia is always rounded up and disappeared when a vicious new regime comes along? By sociopaths not dissimilar to Pugh.

  60. Tony Barnes

    @ Mark

    ...but when it costs well over £20k to keep a prisoner in jail, you have to start wondering if there are other solutions.

    It makes my blood boil the amount it costs for them to be sat there doing time, I'd love to see the maths behind it, as I know for a fact that the meals cost sweet FA

  61. Mark

    @Tony Barnes

    So?

    Why is the cost of keeping someone in jail the issue? You never mentioned this before. Also note that unless the punishment for "crime" becomes "be put on a naughty list", we'd still have to jail these people for £20K p.a.

  62. Mark

    Re: @Sarah Bee the troll

    Luther, I think your sarcasm detector needs recalibrating.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Alert

    Targeting the wrong people

    They should DNA-sample the children of the rich and powerful, because their crimes are likely to be the more serious ones. Oh wait, we don't lock people up for those.

  64. Gordon

    Ballcocks

    YOu can keep someone in jail for 4 grand a year.

    It won't be very nice. But then maybe they might think about not breaking the law next time.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @generally

    Whoever it was talking about the deterent of having DNA taken... It doesn't work - Sarah touched on this, I have my own experience: A guy, who was sadly for him (and me, it turns out) addicted to Heroin, burgled my place a few years back, he cut his hand breaking in and left blood all over the house (The Police even commented that "When people say they've got blood all over the house usually it's a pin prick, but you actually have blood all over the place!") I digress, he left a handprint of his blood on the window as he left, scene of the crime officers said "This is the best evidence I have ever seen". The DNA got him, a few months later, as it was already on the database, he was a repeat offender, he was prosecuted and fined. The clincher is - that was all that happened, there was no deterrent whatsoever, deterrent relies upon people being conscious of what they are doing, the vast majority of crime is spur of the moment. More importantly there was no treatment programme nothing to address his offending behaviour, which would have possilbe helped more in the first place.

    As a 2nd point about deterrent, in America, the states where they have the death penalty roughly corolate to the states with the highest murder rate. The death penalty in America also costs more than keeping someone in Prison for life, with life meaning life. It costs a fuck of a lot of money to execute someone, unless you have a legal system like China.

  66. This post has been deleted by its author

  67. heystoopid
    Thumb Down

    Oh well

    Oh well back in the late sixties an interesting book warned us in advance about stupid people occupying positions of authority above the limit of their single one track a time brain cell !

    Idiocracy has come to past !

  68. b166er

    Passport Sir.

    Business or pleasure?

    I've just left for good.

    Seriously, if it's true that you can identify a future criminal mastermind, by the actions of a 5 year old, then we're fucked anyway. Evidently, there will always be criminals, and the present system is still preoccupied with putting a sticking plaster over the San Andreas fault.

    Why not, instead of telling 5 year olds that they are criminals, telling them until they are blue in the face, until they believe it and guess what, become criminals; sink some serious cash into creating a better environment where less children become criminals in the first place?

    Wall, meet head ?!?

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Prison costs per year

    The thing to remember about those prison costs is that many of the expenses calculated into them are sunk costs. You're going to pay the judges, jailors, electric and water bills, construction and maintainence costs, etc. whether the prisons are at capacity of at a fraction of capacity. These figures are created by totalling up all the money the prison system spends, and dividing by the number of prisoners.

  70. Larry Adams
    Coat

    @ Fraser

    << As a 2nd point about deterrent, in America, the states where they have the death penalty roughly corolate to the states with the highest murder rate. The death penalty in America also costs more than keeping someone in Prison for life, with life meaning life. >>

    The death penalty in the US isn't really a deterrent because, with the exception of Texas, it's rarely imposed... California's "death row", prisoners who have been sentenced to the death penalty, total more than 600... The last execution in California was in December 2005. And there's now an indefinite stay on all executions because of a claim that lethal injection is "cruel and unusual" punishment, and before that the electric chair and gas chamber were determined to be cruel and unusual. The truth is that most prisoners on death row will probably die of old age or medical causes before they're executed.

    My coat please, the heavy one, because I'm ready to leave California and brave those sub-zero winters in my native mid-west.

  71. Paul Stimpson
    Coat

    @Gregg Iceton

    Dear Gregg,

    Do you habitually offer over-simplistic opinions based on a 5-second scan of the paper without thinking them through?

    "As for those who will bleat about invasions of privacy, you haven't got a point. How is someone knowing the structure of your DNA invading your ability to maintain a private life?"

    OK, we all get sampled and out on the database. At some time the profiles should become available to the medical profession to help in our treatment. Researchers start to analyse the data and find certain patterns. Let's say:

    A pattern is found that suggests paedophiles are 9 times more likely to have a certain gene variant. You have this gene variant but you're one of the 10% that's not a paedophile. If you get barred from ever working with children and have any kids you have forcibly adopted at birth that would be OK as long as one child is saved, right?

    They find another gene with a high correlation to cancer. As part of applying for life insurance the company you have to sign a waiver that your insurance company can make enquiries into your medical records (fairly standard now.) They discover you have the cancer gene and have 19 times the normal chance of suffering from cancer. You now can't get life insurance or it costs £1000 a month instead of £50. The reason you wanted the life insurance was that you were buying a house and needed it for the mortgage. Guess you won't ever be buying a house now. You die in your 70s of a heart attack, in bed in your rented accommodation because you could never buy.

    Researchers discover a "thief gene." Having it makes you vastly more likely to be dishonest. You're one of the percentage that has it but has worked hard to lead an honest life. You have to waive access to your medical records as well as take a mandatory drug test to get a job. I hope you didn't want that job in the Police or that bank.

    @Mark

    "Is Tony's DNA on the database?" - Yes, he made a public gesture of voluntarily submitting it to show that he has nothing to fear cos the police would never dare come after him.

    Everybody that has spoken in favour of this idea has made one important, but possibly flawed assumption: That this only affects "them" and there's nothing in _your_ DNA that would ever have you discriminated against. Of course there isn't. I mean, only poor people have the thief gene, right? Please forgive me in advance when I laugh if I meet you at the bus stop one day and you're complaining you can't have a car as you can't get insurance because you have the thief gene and are an "unacceptable insurance risk" and "something must be done about it."

  72. Glyn
    Thumb Up

    @Paul Stimpson

    That's exactly right, it's not just what they can do now (which seems to be the mainstay of the if-you've-got-nothing-to-hide-you've-got-nowt-to-fear brigade) it's what they might be able to do with it in the future. There's no limit to what could be done for both good or ill with the template of peoples lives, but looking back in history, alas it's more likely to be ill

  73. Michael
    Alert

    @whats wrong with dna profiling??

    http://www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov/articlerender.fcgi?artid=40478

    This might help, but it'll be tough reading for the Daily Mail readers... or the Guardian readers for that matter.....I'm just waiting for them to increase the population sample size by testing visitors at the airport transit lounge..

    I wonder will they have this data on disc, and who would be interested in it????

    (http://www.ma.hw.ac.uk/ams/girc/)

  74. michael

    @sb

    "In fact, when it's warm out I might just head out wearing nothing but some frilly knickers and a smile."

    it HAS been a intresting day for mental images.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    @Paul Stimpson

    I assume you have heard of Charles Darwin?

    Survival of the purest.

    Achtung, Gott im Himmel .....Oops! Nearly mentioned the war.

    Mine's been hanging up next to Monica Lewinsky's dress and it's all sticky!

  76. druck Silver badge

    Re: Major/minor crime

    SrahB wrote: "Actually some bloke went into my flat years ago and nicked my wallet and left a fag butt behind, and the police got him on the DNA from it. So it does happen with small stuff. I was surprised myself that they'd bother, but I suppose it counted as burglary. Impressed they could get it from a dog end, too."

    And criminals are well aware of that, the easiest way to get away with a crime is to frame someone else, and its never been easier to do than with DNA evidence. Just pick up a discarded fag end from someone you know is on the register and leave it at the scene of a crime. Unless that person can come up with a cast iron alibi (such as already being locked up at the time) a jury will convict as DNA matches are a billion to one certainty according to CSI on the telly

    Its already happening, gangs of car thieves already leave the butts of their rivals behind to hamper their comptetitors. Just think how much easier it will be when you know that instead of having to fit up a well aware fellow criminal, any unsuspecting member of the public is fair game to take the rap for you.

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Won't somebody....

    ...think of the children?

    Oh, he did. And now they're going to jail.

    Perhaps rather than taking their DNA, perhaps we should just kill them, to save the taxpayer from having to shoulder the cost of their potential future criminal activity. So we could set up special detention centres, to which all potential criminal children could be sent. The numbers falling into this category would be quite large, so you'd need to gas them or something.

    Pre-judging people by their ethnic or socio-economic background, and then persecuting them. It's a brilliant plan. I wonder why nobody ever thought of it before?

    Erm....

  78. David Pollard

    @Paul Stimpson re Tony's DNA

    There's nothing to show that Tony's DNA profile is on the database. There was only a photo of him smiling with a swab in his mouth like a lollipop. During the actual process of taking a sample one's mouth has to be open so that cells can be scraped from inside the cheeks. Tone with his mouth wide open wouldn't be exactly photogenic...

    Profiles of police themselves are apparently held on an entirely separate database - so I learned during a discussion held at the Dana institute - in order these can be swiftly discounted in order to reduce the overhead of false matches when their DNA is accidentally picked up at a crime scene.

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