Although the importance of my final modules combined with having to produce 18k in words across 3 final assignments was challenging, I have still managed to enjoy the majority of 2018 so far. A major reason for that was that I loved the final two taught modules of my degree. I’ll use a future post to focus on Hate Crime. However, I’m going to dedicate this post to discussing Forensic Science and Criminal Justice.
As the name suggests, this module did not discuss forensic science techniques in detail but rather evaluated the role, both good and bad, that forensic science plays in our criminal justice system. This was a fascinating module to study, primarily because it ruthlessly exposed the myth that forensic science is always useful and has no limitations. To take DNA as an example, DNA can be incredibly useful at placing an alleged offender at the scene of crime. However, that is not conclusive evidence that the offender committed a criminal offence.
One of the most fascinating discussions in the module was the question of whether legislation should be changed in order that every citizen’s DNA profile is added to the National DNA Database (NDNAD)? Arguments from both sides can be found at this link:
Although there are economic arguments to consider, the debate is focussed on the issue of the relative importance of public safety: is the benefit to public safety by allowing the police to catch more offenders worth the increased risk of a miscarriage of justice combined with the privacy and ethical concerns of larger forensic databases? For instance, is it right that an innocent person’s DNA profile, which contains personal genetic information such as susceptibility to certain diseases, is added to the database?
My personal view is that the law should be changed because nothing is more important than catching dangerous offenders as quickly as possible, thereby saving lives. In this era of modern technology and widespread internet access, I believe that people need to have realistic expectations about privacy. That is not to say that privacy is history. But if people really want the police and the security services to protect us to the very best of their ability, we need to give them as many possible tools to do their jobs. If that means our personal emails and messages are read, so be it. If that means our DNA being added to the NDNAD, so be it.
The size of the NDNAD is just one of many fascinating topics on the Forensic Science and Criminal Justice module on the BSc Criminology degree here at the University of Leicester. Further information can be found at this link: