Technology which could protect us all
TWO rapists are off our streets today.
Shaun Harrison and Alexander Shepherd probably believed they had got away with their vile crimes – after all, they had committed them more than two decades previously.
As the years passed they will have believed they had been forgotten, that they had slipped through the fingers of justice.
But their victims will not have forgotten – and neither did the police. Scientific advances have allowed detectives to finally secure a conviction on both men and they are now where they belong – behind bars.
The cases once again highlights the moral debate around the use of DNA evidence. The technology causes understandable concern for many about the potential for the abuse of individual civil liberties.
But these concerns must surely be weighed against the ability to catch a rapist 20 years after he struck. What about the rights of the victim to see justice being done? The argument that if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear raises wry smiles in some quarters, but is essentially correct.
Ultimately, the people with most to fear from a well regulated police force equipped with a comprehensive DNA database would be the criminals. The ability to identify and punish offenders is reason enough to consider this possibility – but imagine the powerful deterrent it would create. This would be the real prize – a woman spared the lifelong horror of becoming a victim of a rapist.