Feeds

Durham police demonstrate DNA will stuff you

Possession of non-illegal substance will still arse up your prospects

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

Durham police last week put the final nail in the coffin of the Home Office mantra "nothing to hide, nothing to fear", with a clear announcement that DNA and fingerprinting could harm an individual’s career prospects – even if they are otherwise totally innocent.

The warning came in a press release relating to mephedrone, which began by establishing that the substance remains legal to possess – until the government determines otherwise – but illegal to sell for medicinal purposes.

The release observes that "its chemical formula is one molecule different to ecstasy and as such dealers are claiming is not a controlled substance." This would in fact make mephedrone a different chemical substance from ecstacy – in much the same way that carbon monoxide is not the same as carbon dioxide - and therefore clearly not a controlled substance, irrespective of claims made by dealers.

However, it is in police remarks relating to the consequence of possessing mephedrone that the greatest concerns are to be found. Barnard Castle-based Inspector Kevin Tuck is reported as saying: "In Durham police have taken a stance and anyone found with it will be arrested on suspicion of possession of a banned substance."

He adds: "They will be taken to a police cell, their DNA and fingerprints taken and that arrest, depending upon enquiries, could have serious implications for example on future job applications" (our italics).

We asked Durham police for clarification of what possible serious implications there could be for an individual found in possession of a legal substance who had their fingerprints or DNA taken. It was speculated that perhaps some employers would ask prospective job candidates about details not merely of convictions, but of all contact with police – and therefore having DNA taken could adversely affect job prospects for that reason.

However, we have had no official response to our inquiry and remain as baffled as the Home Office, who are still sticking to their line that DNA testing in and of itself can have no consequence for an individual.

A Home Office spokesman said: "Employment checks are not linked to the DNA database and employers cannot check if a potential employee is on the DNA database.

"As we announced last month in our proposals for DNA retention, the police would be required to remove DNA profiles from the database after six years if the person was not subsequently convicted.

"Under the exceptional case procedure, an individual can apply to their police force to have their DNA removed. This will be decided by the chief constable, and the criteria for that application are for the first time set out in statute in our proposals."

Therefore, the official line continues to be that DNA testing is an innocuous process and, as ever, "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear".

Whether the police should have any role at all to play in the regulation of a legal substance is an interesting question: defendants of the police role (pdf) in this would point to the fact that as well as upholding law and order, local police forces are tasked with "keeping the Queen’s peace", as well as "protecting, helping and reassuring the community".

Pending explanation from Durham, however, it would seem to be the case that the belief exists amongst some middle-ranking officers that a DNA test does have consequences; or, if it does not, that there is sufficient uncertainty amongst the general public for the threat of a test to have some weight in enforcing a "stance" taken against a currently legal substance. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
JINGS! Microsoft Bing called Scots indyref RIGHT!
Redmond sporran metrics get one in the ten ring
Driving with an Apple Watch could land you with a £100 FINE
Bad news for tech-addicted fanbois behind the wheel
Murdoch to Europe: Inflict MORE PAIN on Google, please
'Platform for piracy' must be punished, or it'll kill us in FIVE YEARS
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Sony says year's losses will be FOUR TIMES DEEPER than thought
Losses of more than $2 BILLION loom over troubled Japanese corp
Radio hams can encrypt, in emergencies, says Ofcom
Consultation promises new spectrum and hints at relaxed licence conditions
Why Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had to go ... Except he hasn't
Silicon Valley's veteran seadog in piratical Putin impression
Big Content Australia just blew a big hole in its credibility
AHEDA's research on average content prices did not expose methodology, so appears less than rigourous
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.