RESEARCH ARTICLE


Support for the Forensic DNA Database and Public Safety Concerns: An Exploratory Study



Monica Pivetti*, Antonella Caggiano, Filippo Cieri, Silvia Di Battista, Chiara Berti
Department of Psychological, Health and Territorial Sciences (Di.S.P.U. Ter.) University of Chieti-Pescara, Chieti, Italy


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© 2017 Pivetti et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode). This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Psychological, Health and Territorial Sciences (Di.S.P.U.Ter.) University of Chieti-Pescara (Italy), via dei vestini, 66100 Chieti, Italy, Tel: +39 0871 3556592; E-mail: m.pivetti@unich.it


Abstract

Background:

Over the past few decades, 32 European countries have introduced a national DNA database containing samples and/or profiles from suspected/convicted criminal offenders and biological materials from crime scenes. However, only a few studies have empirically investigated opinions on such a practice and the psychosocial factors possibly predicting public support or opposition.

Objective:

This study aims to preliminarily explore public support for a national DNA database in Italy. In particular, the role played by psychosocial factors, such as concern over individual rights vs. public safety, as well as genetic and juridical/legal literacy in the public’s acceptance of a forensic DNA database, was investigated.

Method:

Within a correlational study, a written questionnaire was administered to a sample (N = 242) of university students.

Results:

Participants generally showed support for a forensic DNA database. Concerns over public safety predicted the acceptance of a DNA database, with those valuing public safety being more supportive of its implementation, whereas no role was played by familiarity with the fundamental mechanisms of genetics and with the Italian Criminal Code and Criminal Procedure Code.

Conclusion:

Empirical research on this issue could provide policymakers and the police force with a better picture of the psychosocial factors underlying public support for the DNA database.

Keywords: Forensic DNA database, Public safety concerns, Civil rights, Public support, Genetic literacy.