Communion Of Dreams

Put young children on DNA list, urge police.

Primary school children should be eligible for the DNA database if they exhibit behaviour indicating they may become criminals in later life, according to Britain’s most senior police forensics expert.

Gary Pugh, director of forensic sciences at Scotland Yard and the new DNA spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said a debate was needed on how far Britain should go in identifying potential offenders, given that some experts believe it is possible to identify future offending traits in children as young as five.

‘If we have a primary means of identifying people before they offend, then in the long-term the benefits of targeting younger people are extremely large,’ said Pugh. ‘You could argue the younger the better. Criminologists say some people will grow out of crime; others won’t. We have to find who are possibly going to be the biggest threat to society.’

“We have to find who are possibly going to be the biggest threat to society” . . . and turn them into criminals by the way we treat them from the very start.

The Minority Report, anyone? No, not the movie, which was OK, but the original short story by Philip K. Dick, which also shows the dangers of a post-war military regime/mindset to a civil society.

See, here’s the thing: people will largely react to the way you treat them (yes, I am generalizing.) If you take one set of people, and treat them like criminals from early childhood, guess what you’ll get?

I am constantly dismayed by just how much Great Britain has become a surveillance society, to the point where it is a dis-incentive to want to travel there. In almost all towns of any real size, you are constantly within sight of multiple CCTV cameras, and there is increasing use of biometrics (such as fingerprint ID) as a general practice for even routine domestic travel.

But getting DNA of all five year olds, under the excuse that it will better allow for catching criminals? Scary. To then match that up with the notion that you can predict the future behaviour of a 5 year old, based on someone’s model of personality development is just plain insane.

And you know that if they can pull this off in Britain, there will be plenty of people who think it should be instituted here.

Welcome to the future.

Jim Downey

(Via BoingBoing. Cross-posted to UTI.)

6 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I think what your missing here is that Britain has pretty much always been a surveillance society.
We’re a nation of curtain-twitchers.

I believe the reason for having so many CCTV cameras is that it’s genuinely how we prefer to deal with our crime problem, and not any attempt by our goverment to monitor the public.

True, though, treating people as criminals before they’re fully grown is not a smart idea. That’s when you know someones got over-happy.

Comment by Troika21

Troika – thanks for commenting.

It may well be that there was always a “curtain twitching” instinct in the UK – I can only say that the proliferation of CCTV cameras there in the 15 years or so that I have been coming to visit has really been noticeable. We see some of it here in the US, mostly on private property, but it seems like you literally cannot go anywhere in urban areas in the UK without being monitored by at least a couple of cameras constantly.

Add in the efforts to establish a national ID card, biometric use at places like terminal 5 at Heathrow, et cetera, and from this vantage point one really has to wonder whether this is what the people of the UK want – to be monitored in all movements and activities at all times. Or is this perhaps part of the reason the Labor gov is becoming so unpopular?

Jim D.

Comment by Communion of Dreams

I’ve never understood why people dislike CCTV, its moaned over but whenever there’s a rape somewhere or a murder (etc.) they get flashed all over the news and papers, they strike me as very useful.

Why don’t people email the editors to remove them as enabling a ‘surveillance society’? Or perhaps, banning camera-phones. May be I’m being pedantic.

And yes, Labour is unpopular because they want us to trust them with infomation, but they don’t trust us. Tesco may know more about me than the goverment, but I get tangible benefits from them. This goverment is liable to lose the infomation.

As the infomation about myself is going to be out there whether I like it or not (through simply making on-line purchases for example) I think the best option is to privatise it, but I digress. 🙂

Comment by Troika21

Troika – you might find this brief discussion of this post on UTI to be insightful

This might just be a cultural thing (though I know Cory Doctorow feels strongly about it). But here most people I know feel very uneasy about the government or anyone else ‘snooping’ into their business. Granted, it happens, but usually as quietly as possible, since generally the more people are aware of how much it happens, the more pissed off they are about it. Privacy is a big deal to most of us in the US, whether or not that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Anyway, thanks again for stopping by.

Jim D.

Comment by Communion of Dreams

[…] me nuts. The Brits are well on their way to being a true surveillance society. As I have written recently: I am constantly dismayed by just how much Great Britain has become a surveillance society, to the […]

Pingback by And for today’s installment of “1984 - The Musical”: « Communion Of Dreams

[…] mentioned Philip K. Dick, his genius and his influence on my writing, previously. And I’ve specifically written about his short story The Minority Report in the context of the UK’s plunge into becoming a […]

Pingback by Sometimes I think that Philip K. Dick was an optimist. « Communion Of Dreams

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