Feeds

Police want DNA collection superpowers

All your genes are belong to us, sonny Jim

New hybrid storage solutions

Police in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales are seeking to extend their already world-beating powers to collect and store DNA samples from the general population.

Current powers allow the coppers to collect samples, which are digitised and stored permanently, from anyone arrested on suspicion of, but not neccesarily charged with, a recordable offence. This is normally an offence that would qualify for a custodial sentence.

But now they want to be able to snoop the genetic make-up of those arrested for non-recordable offences, such as dropping litter or speeding.

Speaking in support of the request for expanded powers, Inspector Thomas Huntley from the Ministry of Defence Police said the change would allow the plods to collect samples from people before they had committed a serious offence, a situation he considered preferable to "allowing a serious offender to walk from custody, following arrest for a non-recordable offence, and if they go on to commit a further offence".

Reading this carefully, we think he is saying that we need everyone on the database in case they commit a crime at some point in the future.

But despite some support for the police's request to massively expand the database, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) warned that granting such powers could contribute to the increasing "criminalisation of generally law-abiding public".

The call from the boys in blue comes as the government launches a new consultation on the existing powers, to be held by the government's advisory body, the Human Genetics Commission (HGC).

The so-called Citizen's Inquiry "will be involving a small, group of ordinary people who will consider social and ethical issues involved in the current and future use of DNA for forensic purposes", according to the HGC announcement.

Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, the HGC's chair, said the inquiry would cover things like whether or not it is justified to retain data from people who are either not charged or subsequently acquitted.

She added: "It is likely that the use of DNA information by police authorities for criminal intelligence purposes will grow.  It is therefore vital that the public are able to voice their views having had the opportunity to consider all the relevant issues."

The inquiry was welcomed by campaign group GeneWatch. Spokeswoman Dr Helen Wallace said the consultation with the public on powers "unprecedented" in British history was long overdue. "Your DNA can reveal where you have been, who you are related to, and sensitive information about your health. There is a real danger of abuse by Governments, or by anyone who might infiltrate the system and obtain access to people's DNA or computer records."

The national DNA database already holds four million records, among them almost 900,000 relating to children between the age of 10 and 17. There are also 100 records relating to children under 10, according to reports. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
Heavy VPN users are probably pirates, says BBC
And ISPs should nab 'em on our behalf
Former Bitcoin Foundation chair pleads guilty to money-laundering charge
Charlie Shrem plea deal could still get him five YEARS in chokey
NORKS ban Wi-Fi and satellite internet at embassies
Crackdown on tardy diplomatic sysadmins providing accidental unfiltered internet access
'Serious flaws in the Vertigan report' says broadband boffin
Report 'fails reality test' , is 'simply wrong' and offers ''convenient' justification for FTTN says Rod Tucker
FAIL.GOV – Government asks Dropbox for accounts that don't exist
Storage locker's transparency report shows rise in government data gobble attempts
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile
Data demand and the rise of virtualization is challenging IT teams to deliver storage performance, scalability and capacity that can keep up, while maximizing efficiency.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.