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DNA testing and guilt or innocence

Caution is commendable when introducing any legislation but it is difficult to understand the objection to people charged with offences being DNA tested.
This is what the South Australian Police Commissioner Mal Hyde wants and he is clearly speaking for police as a whole.
Attorney-General Michael Atkinson has refused this in favour of far more restrictive powers in legislation to go before Parliament.
The argument for DNA testing is that it is more accurate than other forensic evidence, including fingerprints. In other words, it is as helpful in determining innocence as guilt.
As with fingerprints, there should be no question of police or any other state agency compiling dossiers on citizens - beyond those we all acquire in these computerised times.
If testing when a person was charged were permitted, destruction of the material of an acquittal would have to be mandatory.
Alternatively, testing could be a consequence of conviction for a wider range of crimes. Concern for civil liberties must always be an issue when any extension of police powers is proposed.
However, unless serious scientific objections are raised, this seems to be a logical extension of technology no more alarming than, say, the computerisation of driving licences and vehicle registration.

Adelaide Advertiser (2-10-2002)
The Editor

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