NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Britain Leads In Crime- Solving Through DNA

March 29, 2000

The United Kingdom's national DNA database dedicated to solving crimes didn't become operational until 1995. Now, observers say it has the world's best DNA technology, the best database of suspects and by far the best record for solving crimes through DNA analysis.

  • Although with only 60 million people Britain has less than one-quarter the population of the U.S., criminologists there have solved more than 51,000 crimes through DNA analysis since 1995.
  • That compares to only 1,082 crimes solved using DNA in the U.S. -- although experts suggest that may be an undercount.
  • British police draw DNA not only from convicted murderers and rapists, but even from minor traffic offenders.
  • In fact, they can sweep into an area, do DNA "dragnets" and test everyone.

While DNA profiles of those eliminated as suspects are removed from the database, the procedures increasingly concern privacy advocates.

Within the U.S., each state and the federal government has its own policy on when to draw DNA and from whom. Only six states -- Alabama, New Mexico, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming -- take and store DNA samples from all convicted felons. Four others -- Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana and New Hampshire -- collect no DNA at all, despite state laws mandating a database.

Source: Richard Willing, "Fear Keeps Up as DNA Science Speeds Forward," USA Today, March 29, 2000.


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