Some confirmation of something those of us working on DNA issues have long suspected:
Police officers in England and Wales have made arrests just to get people on to the DNA database, a retired police superintendent has claimed. He told the Human Genetics Commission (HGC) this was the “norm”. It wants new guidance for police to regulate when it is appropriate to take a sample of DNA
On the subject of the HGC, they currently have a consultation out on the development of a code of practice for the supply of DIY gene-testing kits. This is a particularly thorny issue where children are concerned: should a parent have the right to consent on a child’s behalf to gene-testing that is purely for ‘recreational’ purposes, rather than because of medical necessity? The HGC suggests:
p12 5.10 With the exception of paternity tests, genetic tests in respect of children when, according to applicable law, that child does not have capacity to consent should normally be deferred until the attainment of such capacity, unless other factors indicate that testing during childhood is clinically indicated. If postponement would be detrimental to the child’s health, or the management of the child’s health may be altered significantly depending on the test result, then testing should be organised by a genetics health professional who has responsibility for ensuring that any medical intervention or screening indicated will be arranged and proper arrangements made for any subsequent care.
To our minds, this doesn’t go nearly far enough. ‘Capacity’ is only one factor in obtaining a child’s consent; in order to be valid, consent must also be informed and voluntary. We will be addressing this in our response to the consultation.