Home Office minister invites DNA database debate
As records hit four million
Home Office minister Meg Hillier has insisted on the need to debate the future of the National DNA Database.
Responding to parliamentary questions from two Conservative MPs, Hillier said the growth of the database, which now holds records of more than four million people, has made a debate on its future development necessary.
Tory MP Stephen Crabb asked Hillier if she "understood the enormous extent to which good will and support for the police and for her department are being undermined by a system in which DNA information is being recorded aggressively, but removed in a haphazard way and on a discretionary basis, dependent on police force area".
He highlighted the case of 75 year old Geoffrey Orchard, who was wrongfully arrested and received a written apology from the police, but who remains unable to get his DNA information removed from the system.
Hitting back, Hillier claimed the database had been used to solve 452 homicides, 644 rapes, and more than 8,000 domestic burglaries. She also stressed the fact that a person's DNA was held on the database was not an indication of guilt.
But a spokesperson for human rights pressure group Liberty said by holding the records of non-convicted individuals, the database creates a stigma of guilt.
She told GC News: "Liberty is very concerned about the effect of the national DNA database on young people, in particular, the estimated 100,000 under-18s whose DNA samples are being held despite the fact that they have not been cautioned or charged with any offence. This creates a stigma of guilt which is unwarranted and could lead to problems for individuals later in life."
In September this year, appeal court judge Lord Sedley put forward the case for the compulsory retrieval and storage of every citizen's DNA record.
Asked whether she agreed with Sedley's proposal, Hillier insisted the government had no plans for a universal database, and invited a debate on its future.
"Because it has grown to include more than four million people, it is important that we get the chance to debate how we proceed," the minister said. "I have already asked officials to look at the design of the forms on which people give their permission – if they have given it voluntarily – for that information to remain permanently on the database."
This article was originally published at Kablenet.
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Translating for El Reg readers
When a minister calls for a debate, it means they have have handed you your coat, called your taxi, and are shunting you out the door. Or, if you prefer,
Indication vs. Proof
"[Meg Hillier] also stressed the fact that a person's DNA was held on the database was not an indication of guilt."
The phrase "an indication of guilt" would've been better put as "proof of guilt". A politician; as is now usual, of the unLaboured variety; uses description slippage to soften up the public, for the next stage of whatever it is, yet again.
Geoffrey Orchard would've had his DNA collected as evidence, at the very least, potential evidence. So, how is this evidence not being used as a past, present or future indicator, exactly? If DNA serves no purpose as evidence/indication of guilt, then why do the police need to collect it, hold it & generally waste their own time with it? The fact is that the police would use it as evidence/indication of guilt, in court, if they thought that they could get away with making use of it; as with a doctored photograph, in the de Menezes case. Ms. Hillier has stressed a non-fact (i.e. a big, stinking pile of it), from the point of view of police evidence. Everyone, when in use on that database, is considered to be guilty until discounted as innocent; something which is completely contrary to English, though not European/Napoleonic, law! What purpose does it serve in maintaining this database, which Joe Public is not being told by an elected official, if DNA is not being used as an indication of guilt? No spoken purpose, so scrap it or come clean.
Looking at this from the outside - barely
I live in France, so I'm not actually impacted by all this yet. I'm just wondering how long it is going to take my own Benevolent Government Officials to catch on to this trendy thing that is DNA profiling.
Oh wait - they've just approved a law to have a beta trial on DNA profiling of immigrant mother and children - on a "voluntary" basis of course ! So, it looks like my wonderful, Pays de la Déclaration Universelle des Droits de l'Homme, has just hopped on to the bandwagon and is starting on its merry way.
Having just watched V for Vendetta not long ago, who exactly is it I have to strangle/blow up/cut to pieces to stop this madness ?
Because I don't think a regular, civil chit-chat session is going to stop it from happening.
Is there anyone left, anywhere, that remembers the definition of Freedom ? Is it still in the dictionary ? Or is it in the science-fiction library now ?