Police to keep innocents' DNA despite human rights ruling
Home Office's six-year plan
The government is today expected to announce police will retain DNA profiles from innocent people for up to six years, following a court defeat.
The proposals have already been criticised by the human rights watchdog as not going far enough.
At present, data is retained from every person arrested for any offence forever, and only ever removed from the National DNA Database with the permission of Chief Constables.
The proposed six-year maximum retention period for innocent people replaces earlier proposals to retain profiles for up to 12 years. That policy was based on incomplete research that scientists disowned.
The Home Office was obliged to re-examine DNA retention after it lost the case of S and Marper at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) last December. A panel of judges described indefinite retention of innocent people's DNA as a "blanket and indiscriminate" power.
Today's expected announcement will bring England and Wales closer into line with the ruling, but will not take account of the EHCR's concern that "data in question could be retained irrespective of the nature or gravity of the offence with which the individual was originally suspected".
In Scotland, DNA profiles are retained from innocent people for a maximum of five years, and only when they have been involved in a violent or sexual offence inquiry.
The independent Equality and Human Rights Commission has said the expected proposals do not satisfy the EHCR's ruling.
The plan will also set up a clash with the Tories, who have called for English and Welsh DNA retention policy to be brought into line with Scotland.
More than five million people are now on the National DNA Database. About a million have never been convicted of any crime. ®
Okay, I take it my attempt has failed dismally. I now realise my questions sound like arguments in favour of everyone being on the National DNA Database - not at all what I'd intended!
I shall have to stand in the stupid corner, and think about what I've done.
Crime Scene versus suspect samples.
Personal data must be relevant, not excessive and necessary for a legitimate purpose the exemptions for crime, national security and intelligence purposes are not a carte blanche to collect and retain personal data - just in case it might be handy. Elimination samples fufil their purpose when no match is found so why keep them for far longer and for wider purposes than was consented and understood.
Victims are asked to provide fingerprints and DNA , so it is not only potential suspects but also victims of crime who have concerns. Why not keep crime scene samples until incidents are resolved and destroy elimination samples on elimination and keep matches while cases are active or an unspent conviction exists?
The police should be more considerate of consent and public trust. CrimeWatch often asks for suspects saying they can eliminate the innocent - will you volunteer a sample or propose a potential suspect if this is kept on the police database linked to a serious crime regardless of whether a match is found or not? The police will tag those who make a youthful error and the innocent for 12 years after a suspected event. Unnecessary, excessive and disproportionate and probably of very little benefit to the police or public.
@Anonymous Coward 12th November 2009 06:23 GMT
> how to boil it down to a conveniently concise, rhetorical question?...
ITYM a politically convenient, loaded, straw-man, sound-bite question that ignores the issues...
> "who would you rather trust?"
I would rather that the state trusts me, rather than considering me to be a suspect for *every crime* that has been committed for which DNA has been gathered!
> (Feel free to copy and paste my humble effort into relevant threads elsewhere.)
You mean like threads about idiots who think that "if you have nothing to hide..." is a sensible way of deciding how the justice system works...?