Who can “take” your DNA sample?

Well it’s a confused picture really.. Depends on what sort of DNA test you want to do or indeed who wants you to do it!

The simplest case is when the court says “Go on get a DNA paternity test done under section 20 of the Family Law Reform Act 1969.” In this case it has to be done by one of the companies on the Ministry of Justice’s accredited list they have the systems and processes inplace to ensure that the “chain of custody” of the sample is maintained. They’ll ensure that one of their registered samplers takes and witnesses the sample.

That person must be as defined in the Blood Test (Evidence of Paternity) Regulations 1971 – a medical practitioner, or a registered nurse or bio medical scientist supervised by a medical practitioner, or a tester. So a nurse taking a sample away from her GP practice doesn’t qualify as she isn’t under supervision.

And none of the people on this list can either….

  • accountant
  • airline pilot
  • articled clerk of a limited company
  • assurance agent of recognised company
  • bank/building society official
  • barrister
  • chairman/director of limited company
  • chiropodist
  • commissioner of oaths
  • councillor (local or county)
  • civil servant (permanent), but not someone who works for IPS
  • dentist
  • director/manager of a VAT-registered charity
  • director/manager/personnel officer of a VAT-registered company
  • engineer (with professional qualifications)
  • financial services intermediary (eg a stockbroker or insurance broker)
  • fire service official
  • funeral director
  • insurance agent (full time) of a recognised company
  • journalist
  • Justice of the Peace
  • legal secretary (fellow or associate member of the Institute of Legal Secretaries and PAs)
  • licensee of public house
  • local government officer
  • manager/personnel officer (of a limited company)
  • member, associate or fellow of a professional body
  • Member of Parliament
  • Merchant Navy officer
  • minister of a recognised religion (including Christian Science)
  • officer of the armed services (active or retired)
  • optician
  • paralegal (certified paralegal, qualified paralegal or associate member of the Institute of Paralegals)
  • person with honours (an OBE or MBE, for example)
  • pharmacist
  • photographer (professional)
  • police officer
  • Post Office official
  • president/secretary of a recognised organisation
  • Salvation Army officer
  • social worker
  • solicitor
  • surveyor
  • teacher, lecturer
  • trade union officer
  • travel agent (qualified)
  • valuer or auctioneer (fellows and associate members of the incorporated society)
  • Warrant Officers and Chief Petty Officers.

But then again they could countersign your passport application!  Strange but true.

Now if both parents are “happy ” to undergo paternity testing and willingly go to court to settle a paternity dispute then it used to be that the Dept. of Health’s voluntary Code of Practice on Genetic Paternity Testing in the UK applied to getting the right sampler.

But that’s changed now.  The voluntary Code has been replaced by the Human Genetics Commission’s “Principles” – these cover things such as:

  • the marketing of tests
  • information for consumers
  • counselling and support
  • consent and data protection
  • the laboratory analysis of biological samples and
  • the levels of support that should accompany the genetic test results
  • …..but they don’t appear to cover off the issue of taking the sample in any detail. Whereas as the old voluntary code had entire sections on ensuring authenticity and required you to use an “independent sampler” the new “Principles” simply states that:

    6.3 The test provider should take reasonable steps to assure themselves that a biological specimen provided for testing was obtained from the person identified as the sample provider.

    …hardly the same thing is it?

    Now historically the Ministry of Justice has said that it is only concerned with section 20 cases but surely now that they have removed the protection that the old voluntary Code provided they should accept some responsibility to issue guidance for consumers and test providers – after all as so many sources say – DNA paternity testing – it’s a potentially life changing matter.

    Or are they inferring that the changes in sampling methodology from blood to simple mouthswab kits means that you no longer need the supervision of a GP, in which case can people on the passport countersigning list also supervise the taking of a mouthswab sample and witness the relevant forms? I’m sure they’re perfectly capable, and after all getting a passport is a pretty life changing thing too!

    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

    Connecting to %s

    %d bloggers like this: