Feeds

Gordo's DNA database claims branded 'ridiculous'

114 imaginary murderers get off scot free

High performance access to file storage

In its analysis, GeneWatch comments: "The figures cited by the Prime Minister are not based on the tracking of actual cases. Rather, they are based on a statistical estimate of the numbers of matches that may have occurred between crime scene DNA profiles and the DNA profiles of persons who were charged but not proceeded against or acquitted.

"Not only is the actual number of retained profiles from innocent people unknown, but it is unclear how the number of matches made with these profiles have been calculated, since the estimate does not correspond to specific individuals."

A match on the database does not guarantee a conviction, GeneWatch points out. Past Home Office estimates have said that half of all matches to the database lead to a detection (i.e. identification of a suspect), and half of all detections lead to a conviction. Even if Brown's 114 murderers database matches existed, based on the contemporary government figures 57 of them "would in all probability have got away" [and, as commenters have pointed out, 27.5 who didn't "get away" would have been found not guilty].

Furthermore, the annual report Brown drew his conclusions from also estimated that in more than a quarter of cases where crime scene DNA matched the database, the police were given a list of potential suspects because the profile was not complete.

Spitin doctoring

Wallace said: "This claim [that 114 murderers would have probably walked away] is both ridiculous and entirely false. DNA matches are not solved crimes - many matches occur with victims and with passers-by, or are false matches. People are not stupid - they know that keeping their children's DNA when they've done nothing wrong is not helping to solve crimes."

GeneWatch does not oppose the existence of the the NDNAD, noting its usefulness for law enforcement. It has lobbied against its rapid expansion under the current government from about two million individuals in 2002/03 to around four million individuals in 2006/07. In that time the proportion of crimes solved by DNA profile evidence has remained around 0.35 per cent.

Gordon Brown's intervention in the debate seems timely, if hamfisted. The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights is expected to rule soon in the case of two Sheffield men who have never been convicted of a crime, but whose DNA profile is stored by the government.

Since the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 the database has been further expanded to included everyone over the age of ten who is arrested. If the unidentified men win their case it could mean that hundreds of thousands of profiles would have to be deleted. The Prime Minister's speech followed soon after a warning by a retiring chief constable in the Sunday Times that "murder, rape and child abuse investigations will be hampered" if the government loses the case.

You can read GeneWatch's full analysis here. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
MtGox chief Karpelès refuses to come to US for g-men's grilling
Bitcoin baron says he needs another lawyer for FinCEN chat
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
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
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
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
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.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
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.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.