DNA Fingerprinting and Its Impact on the United Kingdom Research Proposal

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DNA Fingerprinting in UK

The Impact of DNA Fingerprinting in the United Kingdom: A Case Study

The Introduction/Development of DNA Fingerprinting

The use of DNA in the tracking and prosecuting of suspected criminals has gained great fame in recent years due to its frequent appearance in television crime dramas. The technology is not, of course, quite the silver bullet that such programs make it out to be, but it still remarkable in its ability and its applications -- and it is relatively new, as well. Developed in 1985 by Sir Alec Jeffreys, the rise in the use and acceptance of DNA fingerprinting technology has been meteoric when compared to other methods of investigation and criminal prosecution (DNA's Detective Story 2004). Ironically, despite its now widespread use by police and security agencies around the world, including the United Kingdom's Home Office, the first milestone in the advent of DNA identification came in defending someone against the Home Office -- Dr. Jeffreys was able to prove that a Ghanian boy about to be deported really was the son of the citizen claiming to be his mother, and that all of her children also shared the same father (DNA's Detective Story 2004). After the success of this application, the technology spread quickly to law enforcement uses.

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Though the introduction of the technology into practice might have been quick and straightforward, the development of the technology itself was anything but. Though the process has been changed and refined today, Jeffreys' original process for DNA profiling required large samples of tissue (usually hair) or bodily fluid, from which DNA would be extracted via hot salt water, then cultured and electronically organized into pieces of varying length (Jeffreys 2005). It is the varying length -- the number of base pairs -- present in certain places on the DNA strand that results in the colored bands that make up a DNA profile (Jeffreys 2005; BBC 2009).

II. Background Information on the United Kingdom

Research Proposal on DNA Fingerprinting and Its Impact on the United Kingdom Assignment

The government of the United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy, with an unwritten constitution of statues and common law/practice and a severely limited monarch (DirectGov 2009). The basic form of the government under this unwritten constitution is a parliamentary democracy, though only one house of parliament (the House of Commons) is made up of elected representatives; the House of Lords contains lifetime appointments, bishops in the Church of England, and even many hereditary representatives (DirectGov 2009). With a GDP of $2.787 trillion and a variety of products for large-scale export, including beef, sheep, poultry, cereals, and other agricultural products, the UK was better situated than many countries for the current economic crisis; it's current unemployment rate is only 5.5%, compared to the 7.5% and rising rate in the United States, and the latest available data shows a much slower-shrinking economy tan in previous quarters (Office of National Statistics 2009).

English is by far the most spoken language in the United Kingdom, with Welsh also being spoken by a sizeable population in the geographical region of Wales and, to a lesser extent, Scottish Gaelic being spoken in the north. Religion is also fairly homogenous in the nation, with 71.6% of UK citizens identifying as some type of Christian, with only 2.7% claiming Muslim identification and 1% Hindu. Meanwhile, 23.1% of the population either refused to state their religion or does not affiliate themselves with any religion (Office of National Statistics 2009).

III. Impact of DNA Fingerprinting on UK Society

The impact that DNA fingerprinting has had on the different sections and levels of society in the United Kingdom is anything but clear-cut. The benefits that DNA fingerprinting has brought to law enforcement agencies have also brought controversy to the government's doorstep; the establishment of the National DNA Database has led to fears about the collection and maintenance of DNA samples and profiles of citizens that have not been convicted of a crime, and in many instances were not even charged (Jobling & Gill 2004, pp. 745). There is also concern about the cost of the amount of DNA fingerprinting that occurs due to these lax privacy rules, although the amount sent is still not incredibly significant when balanced against overall defense spending… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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