Police investigating the murder of Jo Yeates have suggested they might like to take DNA swaps from every man in Bristol. This has been backed by Bristol East MP, Kerry McCarthy, who said – according to the BBC – that most men would understand why they were being asked.
Obviously everyone is anxious that this murder is solved and of course DNA evidence has proven very useful in pinning down criminals in the past, but is McCarthy right?
If this broad spectrum policing were generally accepted, would it not make sense to require every citizen to provide their finger prints, a sample of DNA, and a photograph when they turn 18?
Obviously the argument is that the innocent have nothing to fear – like the previous debates around omnipresent CCTV – but is this a step too far towards a police state?
On the other hand, some might argue it is actually quite liberating. Perhaps you might feel more free knowing you could be easily eliminated as a suspect in any crime. Perhaps you’d feel more liberated knowing that people who committed crimes against you or your friends and neighbours would most certainly be caught.
If the police knocked on your door this evening and asked for a DNA sample from you because they were investigating a serious crime in your city, would you understand?