Genetic Data, Security and Public Opinion in Italy

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Almost 80% of Italian citizens are favourable to the use of DNA tests use in the fight to crime, particularly with regard to terrorism and other violent crimes. One Italian out of two considers Dna tests as the most relevant contribution that science can give to crime fighting. These are some of the key findings of the survey “Genetic data, Security and Public Opinion in Italy”, promoted by the Italian National Committee for Biosafety and Biotechnologies, carried out by Observa – Science in Society, and presented on the 7th of March 2006, in Rome, at the Italian Parliament, Sala delle Colonne. Speakers will include Leonardo Santi (President of the Biosafety Committe), Massimiano Bucchi (University of Trento and Observa – Science in Society), Giovanni Tinebra (Chief of the Penitentiary Administration Department), Luciano Garofano (Chief of the Special Carabinieri Scientific Police Investigation Division) and Aldo Spinella (Central Police Scientific Investigation Office).

The survey reveals that almost 90% of the Italian citizens would be willing to make their personal information available with the view to strenghthen the fight to crime: over 60% would do so for every type of information related to their own person. The percentage of those who agree to the use of Dna tests for investigating crime reaches almost 80%. More than one Italian out of two (57,2%), in particular, would authorize the police to collect saliva samples with regard to all sorts of crime, whereas less than one out of three (30,6%) would condition the use to specific crimes, such as sexual assault, murder or terrorism.

In addition, the large majority of Italians (85%) consider it acceptable to archive Dna information regarding criminals and suspects in a special database available to the police. The percentage of those favourable decreases to 60% if such database is extended to the overall population. The main concern cited by those who oppose the creation of such database is the risk of violating privacy (59,2%); some also fear that Dna profiles database could pave the way for discrimination in the area of job recruitment (18%). Those favourable, instead, would permit the access to the database to the police (90%), and to emergency services for identifying victims of natural disasters (74%), and to scientists for increasing their knowledge to be later used in crime investigations (71%).

The complete survey report is available in Italian for Observa members. Click here to read it (.pdf format).

The survey on “Genetic data, Security and Public Opinion in Italy” has been conducted on a representative sample of 1016 subjects, representative of Italian population aged more than 15 years, under the scientific supervision of Massimiano Bucchi (University of Trento), Federico Neresini (University of Padua) and Giuseppe Pellegrini (University of Padua) in cooperation with Valeria Arzenton.