Friday, 22 February 2008

DNA Database - Some disturbing facts.

I was browsing through yesterday's Hansard written answers and came across a question about our DNA database:

Mr. Bailey: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for how long the Government retains the DNA records of individuals who are not found guilty of committing an offence.

Meg Hillier: Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984, the police have the power to take and retain DNA from anyone arrested for a recordable offence and detained in a police station. PACE does not set a limit on retention. Instead, the police follow retention guidelines issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), which state that records will normally be retained for 100 years from the person’s date of birth, regardless of whether they are still alive.
So for the vast majority of innocent people their DNA will be kept on record for life. I take it that the ACPO don't see those over 100 years old as a risk. Did you know that one in ten of the adult population of England and Wales are now on the DNA database? There are approximately 43m adults and there are 4,523,154 on the DNA database.

Now, this is a little strange seeing as only 3,903,482 individuals have had DNA samples taken. The reason for this massive 13.7% discrepancy? Well it seems that one reason for this is that the person being arrested gave different names, or different versions of their name, on separate arrests. Now this looks to me as if the police have taken DNA samples from people without bothering to find out their true identity - or once they have found out their true identity the arresting officer has failed to update the DNA database. Meaning there are 619,672 individuals on the DNA database that do not exist.

EU states have agreed to incorporate into EU Law, a system which will allow its members to view DNA, fingerprint and car registration data of criminal suspects. There is one glaring problem with this system: There are over one million British citizens on that DNA database who have never been convicted of any crime. This system was incorporated into EU law without any consultation of our Parliament or the European Parliament. Do you remember giving your consent to share our country’s confidential data with foreign Governments? No, I didn’t think you would.

From the Daily Mail, May 07:

In the past 12 months, the samples of 81,000 children convicted of no crime have been added to the database, which can be checked against any crime scene. It takes the total to 105,000. Since April 2004, anyone aged ten or above who is arrested in England or Wales can have their DNA and fingerprints taken without their consent, or that of their parents.

Around 80,000 innocent children are likely to be added to the database every 12 months, as that is the average number of children arrested for the first time each year but never convicted. Parents can appeal to have their child's DNA removed but this is at the discretion of chief constables.

Police say those who have had their DNA taken include two schoolgirls charged with criminal damage after drawing chalk on a pavement and a child in Kent who removed a slice of cucumber from a tuna mayonnaise sandwich and threw it at another youngster.

I'm not against the DNA Database, I'm just against the way it is being abused by the police and the government. No innocent should be on the database.


John M Ward said...

There is one possible justification for keeping the DNA records, and that is to assist in identifying corpses that have been so damaged that there is no other way to do so. I am no expert, so don't know how useful this would or would not be -- I simply offer it as a possible reason.

Daily Referendum said...

John that's true, but I find it difficult to accept innocent people being held on what is seen as a predominately criminal database. Especially the children.

Pablo the Scot said...

Has anyone noticed that the police are demanding that we all have our DNA put in this bloody database to be lost or stolen at some civil servants whim, yet not one of them has volunteered to place their DNA there first? Surely if it was such a champion idea, all these stalwart (wo)men in blue would be lining up to show us the way?

Are they? No!!! Thought not, shows how stupid they think we are, doesn't it?