The National DNA Database on Trial (2008/2009)

Dr Rachel Iredale from the Genomics Policy Unit, Faculty of Health, Sport and Science at the University of Glamorgan was awarded £27,914 by the Wellcome Trust for a project entitled ‘The National DNA Database on Trial: Avoiding the Usual Suspects’.

The project focused on young people aged 16-19 who had been convicted of a criminal offence and whose details were already on the National DNA database. These young people were drawn from the Vale of Glamorgan, mainly, Barry, and worked together to put the National DNA Database on trial.

The charge was: ‘That the National DNA Database is an unacceptable infringement of civil liberties’. All the roles at this Trial (jurors, witnesses, prosecution and defence) were played by these young people. The Trial took place in November 2008 in order to coincide with Inside Justice week and it was undertaken in conjunction with The Wales Gene Park, Techniquest and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University NHS Trust.

This project was timely as it coincided with a public consultation launched by the Human Genetics Commission who reported on the forensic use of DNA and genetic information to government later in 2008. The Human Genetics Commission estimated that 25% of the male population and 7% of the female population would soon be on the National DNA database.

Dr Rachel Iredale, Principal Investigator for the project said “the project will enable these young people to think about the National DNA Database in ways they may not have previously done. They acquired an understanding during the course of the project about genetic issues that made personal sense to them and which are located within their own particular environments”.

Strategies for disseminating the results of this project were driven by participants and included informing the Human Genetics Commission of their ‘verdict’.

The trial was held Saturday 8th November 2008 in Cardiff Crown Court, and reports have been presented to the Welsh Assembly Government and Human Genetics Commission.

Please feel free to download the project report (PDF, 4.21Mb)

For further information please contact: Rachel Iredale, Genomics Policy Unit, Faculty of Health, Sport and Science, University of Glamorgan, Pontypridd, CF37 1DL, Tel: 01443-483075 Email: rIredale@glam.ac.uk