Police DNA test plan to put off prostitutes' punters

Another day, another database idea

West Yorkshire Police have sought to clarify a senior officer's remarks after she called for a database of all men who use prostitutes, irrespective of whether or not a crime has been committed.

Chief Superintendent Alison Rose from Bradford South said in a report by the BBC that she wanted to set up a DNA database of men who employ the services of sex workers.

Ms Rose said: "I think there's a real gap in the law around taking DNA from men that use women for sex. If you know that in paying a woman for sex, your DNA was going to be taken you might think again."

This is possibly true; but as El Reg pointed out, when seeking clarification from West Yorkshire Police, going with a sex worker is unlawful in some circumstances, but not all. The implication of this statement, therefore, is that the police would be taking DNA samples from individuals who had committed no crime at all.

West Yorkshire subsequently clarified Ms Rose’s position. A spokesman told us: "She is referring to taking the DNA of those who are charged with kerb crawling offences. If they are subsequently found not guilty, they would obviously be removed from any database. This is a call for a change in the current legislation."

In further clarification, West Yorkshire explained that Ms Rose would like to see the release of images of men convicted of kerb crawling.

Ms Rose’s position is ever so slightly at odds with that of ACPO. Just over a year ago now, UK Police were told by the European Court on Human Rights that that DNA data should not be indefinitely retained from those who have not been charged or convicted.

However, as ACPO confirmed to us today, police are continuing to take samples as usual, pending the issue of new regulations by government. This policy includes taking samples from individuals on arrest, and not deleting them even where there is a "not guilty" finding.

Guy Herbert, from the No2ID campaign, was unimpressed with Ms Rose’s proposal. He said: "By the very nature of the work that they do, prostitutes are going to end up with traces of all sorts of DNA so this just creating a route for information to be collected which leads to accusations.

"This is a diversion of police resources from doing something sensible about the real problem."

This proposal follows a not entirely dissimilar proposal by Deputy Chief Constable Simon Byrne, ACPO's lead on prostitution and sexual exploitation, at the end of last year. He would like to see the police setting up a database of “ugly mugs” – or individuals believed to pose a risk to sex workers. ®

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