DNA database will be a disaster unless we can trust authorities to use it well

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Lesley Riddoch hits a lot of nails on a lot of heads in her analysis of the dangers of accepting the police case for a compulsory national DNA database (Opinion, 25 February).

There is little doubt that forensic sciences such as fingerprinting and DNA, in the right hands, have enormous potential as crime prevention and detection tools. Unfortunately, as Ms Riddoch points out, in the failed Templeton Woods and World's End murder trials and the Shirley McKie case these sciences were in anything but the "right hands".

As we await the announcement of the judicial enquiry into my daughter's case we would do well to remember that, after 11 years, when enquiry after enquiry has proved that fingerprint experts made two mistakes in the Marion Ross murder investigation, experts who still adhere to these mistakes continue to analyse fingerprints and give evidence in our courts.

Repeated requests to have them retrained or removed have been met with a wall of silence by their employer, the Scottish Police Services Authority, the very organisation established in the wake of the Scottish Criminal Record Office scandal to ensure the integrity of forensic evidence.

In suggesting these are not the "right hands" I would caution the Scottish Government against allowing any further increase in the power to retain biometric information until it has been proven beyond reasonable doubt that we have police, prosecution and forensic authorities that can be trusted with this power.

IAIN A J McKIE

South Beach Road

Ayr

What a topsy-turvy logic Lesley Riddoch articulates in response to the police search of Gail Sheridan's home. She suggests the discovery of allegedly purloined items, uncovered in a legitimate search for something else, should be ignored by police.

The suggestion is another example of being blind to the rights of victims and justice. Thus we continue to ask our police to protect us and promote justice with one hand tied behind their back.

I do not support the call for a national DNA database of us all. But part of the pressure to have one arises from such muddled thinking, which confuses the issue by seeking to restrict established legal and police procedures.

(CLLR) CAMERON ROSE

City Chambers

Edinburgh

The case for the eventual holding of DNA samples from every person in the UK (your report, 22 February) approaches the overwhelming. Only the paranoid or those with something to hide could find fault with a database being available in cases involving horrific murders or terrorism or even immigration. Any supposed human right violation is of little consequence in the detection of brutal killers and the protection of the innocent.

In much the same way as CCTV has become part of everyday life and is used extensively by police hunting killers and criminals, so will this new tool be an aid in finding the guilty.

ALEXANDER McKAY

New Cut Rigg

Edinburgh