Intended for healthcare professionals


Doctors will be asked to help identify people at risk of becoming terrorists

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 08 June 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d3627

Re:Reporting potential terrorists is not a task we should readily agree to undertake

I entirely agree with Dr English--there is no diagnostic test for
terrorism, and reporting on the basis of "suspicion" is entirely different
from reporting suspected child abuse--which has diagnostic symptoms and

Common sense says if we reported every patient with, say, Asperger's or
mental health issues who complains about the British government we would
report half our patients--and many of our colleagues--and the security
services would be swamped with data that they would have no hope of
turning into useful information. The erosion of trust would not be worth
the dubious gains.

Competing interests: No competing interests

21 July 2011
Julia M Lowe
Associate Professor
University of Toronto