Police arresting people "just for the DNA"
2009 11 30

By Peter Griffiths | Reuters.com

Britain has built the world's biggest DNA database without proper political debate and police routinely arrest people just to get their DNA profiles onto the system, the genetics watchdog said in a report on Tuesday.


The Human Genetics Commission, which advises the government on the social, legal and ethical aspects of genetics, called for a review of the database and said new laws must be passed to govern its use.

In a damning report, the commission said "function creep" had transformed the system from a DNA store for offenders into a database of suspects.

More than three-quarters of young black men aged between 18 and 35 are on the system, the report said.

Set up in 1995, the database contains the DNA profiles of five million citizens, eight percent of the population, making it the world's biggest in proportion to population size.

"Parliament has never formally debated the establishment of the National DNA Database and safeguards around it," commission chairman Professor Jonathan Montgomery said in a statement.

"It has developed through amendments to laws designed to regulate the taking of fingerprints and physical evidence before DNA profiling was developed.

"It is not clear how far holding DNA profiles on a central database improves police investigations."

The report quoted an unidentified retired senior police officer as saying that "it is now the norm to arrest offenders for everything" in order to obtain a DNA sample.

'VITAL TOOL'

A Home Office spokesman said the database was a "vital crime-fighting tool" that had linked more than 410,000 crime scenes with a DNA match and a possible lead to an offender between 1998 and March 2009.

"Research shows no clear link between the level of offence for which an individual is arrested and the seriousness of any subsequent offence with which they may be associated," the spokesman said. No one from the Association of Chief Police Officers could immediately be reached for comment.

Opposition politicians and human rights groups said the report provided further evidence that Britain is becoming a "surveillance society," where people's personal details are stored and their movements constantly monitored.

Conservative Home Office spokesman James Brokenshire said Gordon Brown's government had allowed the DNA database to grow "for the sake of it, regardless of guilt or innocence."

"Under Labor's surveillance state, everyone is treated as a potential suspect," he said.

The report recommended that parliament pass new laws that clearly outline the powers of the police and the DNA database.

An independent panel should be set up to review the evidence on who has given DNA samples and why. The type of offences which require suspects to give a sample must also be reviewed.

Police in England and Wales can take and store the DNA of anyone arrested for a recordable offence, a category that includes all but minor crimes.

Article from: Reuters.com



Related Articles
'Big Brother' DNA database plan will place innocent people under suspicion for 12 years
US vastly expands its DNA databases
DNA database 'breach of rights'
DNA database plans for 10-year-olds who 'could become criminals'
All UK 'must be on DNA database'
EU police will access our DNA database
DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated, Scientists Show
DNA Not The Same In Every Cell Of Body
Scientists post DNA details online
Edit your DNA: 'Gene wiki' to debut on Wikipedia
Newborns' DNA targeted for state research, profiling
Feds to collect DNA from every person they arrest
UK Police take student's DNA for £2.40 fare fine
DNA database: which police force takes the most samples?


Latest News from our Front Page

Your Smartphone Broadcasts Your Entire Life To The Secret Service
2014 09 23
Intelligence services collect metadata on the communication of all citizens. Politicians would have us believe that this data doesn’t say all that much. A reader of De Correspondent put this to the test and demonstrated otherwise: metadata reveals a lot more about your life than you think. Ton Siedsma is nervous. He made the decision weeks ago, but keeps postponing it. ...
Scots were tricked into voting ‘No’ – Salmond
2014 09 23
London politicians gulled Scottish voters out of independence by making a false “vow” to grant Glasgow extra powers, First Minister Alex Salmond has said. He also raised the prospect of another referendum, saying the break-up is inevitable. Alex Salmond, leader of the ’Yes’ campaign and the outgoing head of the Scottish National Party (SNP), told the BBC’s Sunday Politics program that ...
The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola
2014 09 23
The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity. Suspected Ebola patient Finda “Zanabo” prays over her sick family members before being admitted to the Doctors Without Borders Ebola treatment center on Aug. 21, 2014, near Monrovia, Liberia. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images As the Ebola epidemic in West Africa has spiraled out of control, affecting thousands of Liberians, Sierra Leonians, and Guineans, ...
Man bitten by Ebola patient flown to Switzerland
2014 09 22
Swiss authorities say a male nurse who was bitten by an Ebola patient while working in West Africa has been flown to Switzerland as a precaution. The health ministry says the unidentified man was working for an international organization in Sierra Leone when he was bitten by a child infected with Ebola on Saturday. The ministry says the nurse was wearing protective ...
Climate March in New York City Reveals Communists Demanding ’Revolution, Nothing Less’ - Trash the City With Garbage
2014 09 22
Tens-of-thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of New York City Sunday to demand political leaders take action on climate change. While the protest remained peaceful, much of the “People’s Climate March” appeared to be made up of fringe elements of the political left. Dozens of signs denouncing capitalism were spotted at the demonstration, often held by self-proclaimed socialists. “Capitalism is destroying the ...
More News »