Police arresting people "just for the DNA"
2009-11-30 0:00

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

"Too many white people" in Pittsburgh says government official
2015-07-31 2:14
According to Abby Wilson, the deputy director of the Department of Health’s Bureau of Public Policy and Community Relations in Allegheny County, there are too many White people in Pittsburgh. She left Pittsburgh to work in South Africa and then study in the Netherlands, but now that she’s back, she wants to change it. “My two main gripes (about Pittsburgh) are: too ...
Judge blocks group from releasing more Planned Parenthood videos
2015-07-31 2:35
The pro-life group behind a series of undercover Planned Parenthood videos accused the bioservice firm StemExpress late Wednesday of trying to “cover up this illegal baby parts trade” after the company obtained a court order blocking the release of footage. The Los Angeles Superior Court issued a temporary injunction Tuesday stopping the Center for Medical Progress from releasing any video showing ...
US Fish & Wildlife Service Investigating Killing Of Cecil The Lion
2015-07-31 2:18
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that the agency is investigating the killing of Cecil the Lion, saying it will “go where facts lead.” The agency made the announcement via Twitter Thursday. Also Thursday, the Eden Prairie Police Department said that, while they will be stepping up neighborhood monitoring, they will not be providing personal protection for the dentist who killed ...
Dispute over bounced check caused brutal Hollywood shotgun killing: Cops
2015-07-31 2:40
Carrie Melvin, an aspiring Hollywood production assistant, was strolling with her boyfriend not far from Sunset Boulevard on the evening of July 5 when someone murdered her with a shotgun. Police have now arrested a suspect, Ezeoma Obioha, 31, and say his motivation was likely a dispute over a bounced check worth just a few hundred dollars. A Los Angeles ...
California Drought Could Wipe Cities Off Map If Their Water Runs Out
2015-07-31 2:28
The epicenter of California’s drought crisis is in the Central Valley, where there are growing fears the drought could wipe entire towns off of the map. Wells are going dry, jobs are harder to come by and families are already moving, either to different states or even Mexico in search of work. Before visiting Tulare County, a place where wells have gone ...
More News »