'Non-Conviction' DNA Databases in the USA and England: Historical Differences, Current Convergences

Elizabeth Jane Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Collecting DNA from crime scenes and individuals and storing it in databases is regarded increasingly as critical for criminal investigation and prosecution. This article considers the development of non-conviction DNA databases in the United States and England and Wales, and examines why current legal trajectories are in opposite directions, with the United States becoming more permissive in terms of database expansion and England and Wales less so. It posits that any such trend is contingent on many factors. Political and cultural variables in England and Wales prompted database expansion, facilitated by the absence of robust constitutional protection for privacy. Nevertheless, the jurisprudence of the European Convention on Human Rights now limits this scheme. In contrast, classical liberal ideology and the construal of the norm of privacy provided a brake in the American context, yet it appears that non-conviction databases will become more common given extant interpretation of the US Constitution.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-230
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Evidence and Proof
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


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