Feeds

Police want DNA collection superpowers

All your genes are belong to us, sonny Jim

High performance access to file storage

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. ®

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
Did a date calculation bug just cost hard-up Co-op Bank £110m?
And just when Brit banking org needs £400m to stay afloat
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Whoever you vote for, Google gets in
Report uncovers giant octopus squid of lobbying influence
Lavabit loses contempt of court appeal over protecting Snowden, customers
Judges rule complaints about government power are too little, too late
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
Don't let no-hire pact suit witnesses call Steve Jobs a bullyboy, plead Apple and Google
'Irrelevant' character evidence should be excluded – lawyers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Ex-Tony Blair adviser is new top boss at UK spy-hive GCHQ
Robert Hannigan to replace Sir Iain Lobban in the autumn
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.