back to article Gordo's DNA database claims branded 'ridiculous'

Gordon Brown has been accused of deliberately misleading the public by claiming that not retaining genetic profiles of innocent people on the National DNA Database (NDNAD) would have led to 114 murderers getting away. The charge was made on Friday by the genetics lobby group GeneWatch UK. It analysed a speech the Prime Minister …

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Paris Hilton

Hmmm...

Well there are no comments approved as I type this,

I wonder how many HYS style "DNA databases will imprision us all due to contamination!!!" comments there are ahead of this comment in the moderation queue?

It's interesting to note that Genewatch's own report does some glossing over and dodgy extrapolation of it's own, but no doubt it'll be elevated to some level of "god's ultimate truth" to be read by all school children, and to supplement the bible/koran/knuth/hitch-hikers-guide as appropriate.

Paris, because she's got her hands on LOTS of genetic material.

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Pirate

So....

...McBroon screws up again. He's getting just like his mate Tony, you always knew when he was lying, his mouth was open. Roll on the election.

Can we have NOT joke alert icon please?

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Stop

Any WMD's there?

Mr Browns NDNAD facts seem to be as accurate and reliable as those used in Mr Blairs 'WMD' speech. Maybe to save time, this is a govt pro-forma that is used in such cases. When will we hear Mr Brown roll out the 15 minute warning because the NDNAD has had records deleted?

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Half of a Half

Surely if half of the matches lead to a detection and half of those lead to a conviction, then 85.5 murderers would have got away. I'd be interested to see how the .5 did it though.

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Black Helicopters

Adding more hay does not help you find needles

Anyone with ANY knowledge of pattern recognition and data mining knows that putting a lot of entries in a database which have no bearing on your problem just leads to false positives and lower recognition rates.

It is similar to retaining ALL email traffic: 95% of this is spam, of the remaining 5% only a minute fraction is terr(o)rism-related. They are just creating a hay stack of astronomical proportions.

Listen to the rotors

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Why stop there?

So why not just follow this through to its logical conclusion and lock up everybody? No more crime of any kind...

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"People are not stupid "

I beg to differ people are stupid and belive most of what the govderment (or at least the newspapers tell them the goverment said)

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Gold badge

Er, the maths?

So: "...half of all matches to the database lead to a detection (i.e. identification of a suspect)....", so from our 144 matches we get 57 suspects.

and: "....half of all detections lead to a conviction...", so of our 57 suspects 28.5 of them go to jail and do not pass go.

So actually, of our original 144, 115.5 of them "would in all probability have got away". Since we're not going to stick half of a person in the clink, we'll be generous to the government and call that 115 who, literally, get away with murder. The words "chocolate teapot" come to mind and I wonder what the detection rate was in the old days when methods other than "press button, no match, oh dear next case please" were used.

The statistic that only half of all matches lead to a detection would rather indicate that the other half are against existing unidentified crime scene samples (i.e. you have a matching sample, but no name with it). This goes a long way toward showing that repeat offenders are the big ticket item here as somewhat more than 50% of matches are against those with form (presumably of the half that come up with a name attached, a significant number of those are on file with previous). This drives a bit of coach and horses through the government's argument.

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Dan
Unhappy

Obliged?

Good article. At what point can I be *forced* to have DNA swabs/fingerprints taken? I.e. if the bobbies just wanted to question me for something I can refuse, but would I lose this right when charged or what?

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Alert

this happened to me...

some years ago, our local building society was robbed. The cops asked for regular customers to volunteer DNA samples so that we could be eliminated from their enquiries, which, good and dutiful citizen that I was back then, I agreed to do with no qualms. I didn't know back then that they keep these samples forever.

A couple of years ago a girl was sexually assaulted in the toilets at our local cricket club (next door to where i live) - all very shocking because this kind of thing doesn't tend to happen round our way. A few days alter there was an early morning knock at the door and I found myself arrested on suspicion of sexual assault and attempted rape! After nearly 24hrs in custody and being treated like cr*p (not just by the cops but by other prisoners who the cops had told I was a rapist) it transpired that the rozzers had just hauled in anyone locally whose DNA had matched samples found at the scene, even though at the time that the attack had taken place I was in Aberdeen on a job and it was the previous week for the annual fireworks display that I'd been at the cricket club. I had to prove my innocence, didn't even get an apology and came out of the police station with a broken jaw and a warning that they'd *get me next time* - even though the bloke who had done the crime had been caught in the meantime (and not by DNA *evidence* either!) I didn't even fit the description of the attacker, the cops just wanted a result and were quite happy to fit some patsy up, i.e. me.

I made an formal complaint, which achieved nothing apart from the cops parking outside my house for week checking my car and stopping me whenever i walked out of my front gate for trumped-up searches and questioning. in the end I had to speak directly to the local Chief Inspector to get it to stop. Even now if I get pulled over for going through a bus lane, I get the nth degree and on a couple of occasions have been hauled in again so that they can try to fit me up with other crimes they've had sitting around.

So Gordo and the cops can go and stick their DNA database up their collective *rses as far as I'm concerned. No doubt the resident right-wingers who believe that the police can do no wrong, and that everyone who is arrested deserves to be, will jump in with the *nothing to hide, nothing to fear* chant - let me assure you that it isn't true, innocence is no defence, and if the cops want to fit you up, they will, often for very spiteful and malicious reasons.

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Flame

Brown and the Piggies are either liars or too incompetent to hold office

The idea that you can say "x% of the DNA Database are innocent and should not be there so x% of all our DNA detected crimes are committed by this group" is absurd.

First, please learn Bayes theorem and then explain why we need parole systems and offender rehabilitation if an offence is just as likely to be committed by a non convict. Second, the deliberate abuse of the 'data' here to try and make it fit policy is transparent and fraudulent. All of those involved whose snouts are in the public trough should be immediately dismissed for their choice of incompetence or conspiracy to mislead the public and the house.

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Anonymous Coward

The PM misleads the public?

No suprise is it really? Mr Bliar did it before Brown.

This PM has to go. We need to restore our privacy, our rights.

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Stop

114 "Murderers"? Yeah, but...

... just how many False Positives would also be included in those figures?

"[...] 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."

So how would this go? "Ok lads, we can't prove that he *was* there, but if we can get a Judge to agree we've got reasonable grounds for suspicion we can get a search warrant and dig around his place until we do find something."

"Yeah Guv, and don't forget we can grab his computer and look through it for anything we think is extreme porn, so even if we don't get him for the murder we've got a consolation prize that will still let us chalk up another solved crime!"

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Stop

8,000 suspects

"8,000 suspects who have been matched with crime scenes since 2001"

The important question is, were these actually suspects who were checked against the database, or did a random trawl of everyone and anyone who was anywhere near the crimescene over the past 2-3 weeks make them suspects?

in the first case - I suspect Fred Bloggs of having killed this woman, lets check his DNA, that we have on file against any samples at the scene. It matches one so lets get him in for questioning -This is a fairly acceptable use, as it's DNA being used purely to corroborate other, existing, evidence.

in the second case - We've no idea who killed this woman, but found a DNA sample on the pavement next to the body, lets run it through the database and see who it is. Right it matches Fred Bloggs lets go and get him. - This is not an acceptable use, as it's purely DNA saying a person was nearby at some point. You would hope that some other corroborating evidence would be looked for as well, but, would you really trust that a jury wouldn't be swayed purely by, well we have a DNA match, that proves it! (as even our illustrious prime minister seems to think DNA match = conviction i wouldn't hold up much hope)

Like fingerprints, DNA matching is just one tool, that in itself proves nothing, unfortunately this seems to be forgotten quite a lot.

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Anonymous Coward

I have some questions

How many people have been found guilty of murderer following their DNA being matched on a database?

Of those, how many should have had their DNA removed from the database?

Of those, how many would have 'got away with murder' because there was no other evidence?

Can I suggest that the figure might be very near zero?

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Black Helicopters

Thats Numberwang!

114 murders from the DNA database,

45 minutes from the iraq report,

4 billion for the olympics

5 pounds for the congestion charge (and it wont go up)

100k new immigrants after the expansion of the EU

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Anonymous Coward

DNA database

David Davis was on You and Yours last week, he talked about the number of innocent people with their DNA on the national database. One callers seemed to sum up many people's attitude. From what I remember she said that they were not innocent, they just had not been found guilty or had been released on appeal!

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Humbug and cant

The humbug and cant coming from the Government over this issue (and other related ones, e.g `ID cards'), is sickening to say the least. Blatant emotional manipulation based on distortions, half truths, and outright lies. The only message such behaviour gives is that their reputations, incomes, and holding on to power matter more to them than truth, justice, and service to the nation. The concepts of 'wisdom' and 'humility' seem utterly alien to these people once they are in office. Presumably they become frightened of upsetting the power and the money that got them there.

Oh well. At least we can still vote them out. I'm sure the next lot will be different, until they're not. Perhaps we do indeed get the government we deserve, i.e. they are simply a reflection of our society as a whole. Now there's a scary thought!

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Coat

You limmeys are subjects not citizens

I'm all for it, encode everybody's DNA on their ID cards.

But you lot will never truly be safe until you require everybody to wear transparent clothing. That way they can wear burqas or whatever and still hide nothing.

Then you can use the nationwide camera system to track the subjects by the bar codes tattooed on their foreheads and yank in everybody who's a false positive for DNA matches for shoplifting or whatever.

Better yet, outsource the camera watching. I'll help watch the British ladies in see-through clothing over the Internet. ;-)

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Anonymous Coward

Worse than this ,has ......

Anyone seen the news this weekend that Gordon Brown has now said that the

Hospitals may take your Organs BEFORE (note "before") they have cetified you as

being dead !!. What a bloody great Country we live in. I just hope that Brown and all the Government get taken to hospital for some minor ops and have all their organs taken whilst still alive .

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/health/article4232319.ece

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Anonymous Coward

The right to face your accuser

Similarly if they didn't have 2,7,14, 28, 42, 56, 88, 104, 365, 1500... days detention without charge X murderers would get away. Because individual rights don't matter, and millions of small injustices don't count as much in newspaper headlines as individual major injustices. Headlines are very important when trying to win elections...

Except they do matter and those individual random arrests and DNA and fingerprintings, and injustice, and seizure of vehicles and assets without trial, each and every one of them will vote against NuLabour in the next election. I reckon the 'viewing extreme porn is a crime' and 'legal to descriminate against men' cost Labour every man in Britain and many mothers of teenage boys.

A far more troubling thing is this:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2008/jun/25/law.justice

I didn't know that the UK had removed the right to face your accuser. In the past a suspect could face the accuser and the jury could see if they were lying as they gave evidence. They could tell from the shake in their voices, the mannerisms etc. When faced with having to tell their lies to a hostile council.

However that right has been removed by Blair & co. The witness hides behind a screen, with a disguised voice and controlled set of questions. They can lie with impunity, the jury is shown by this that the suspect is sooooo dangerous that the witnesses need special protection. Yet they've been convicting people on NOTHING BUT THAT EVIDENCE!

The Lords ruled that if that evidence was pivotal, then secret witnesses alone were not enough. Which makes a lot of sense, since otherwise the jury is simply convicting someone on heresay of an anonymous witness.

Worse still, they've been letting CONVICTS give anonymous evidence, which includes people convicted of deception. The evidence of their previous conviction is withheld as it can aide in their identification. The police are supposed to decide if any details need to be revealed, but they're not impartial. Private eye suggested that the police seek protection for witnesses that suspect are lying to avoid exposure in court.

But these laws have lasted centuries and these tossers won't stay in power much longer. One of these two things is not like the other, one of them has stood the test of time and one not.

How safe are you if the secret words of a convict are enough to convict you?

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Alert

Disraeli got there first

When will politicians realize that people KNOW that Disraeli was right with his "Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics?" Politicians should be required to have statements based on statistics validated by a professional statistician!

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BEWARE !!

Big Brother Brown is watching you !! The George Orwell Appreciation Society should send a letter of thanks to Dear Gordon for making their favourite author's work of fiction come true !!

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Uzi
Boffin

Lies, damned lies and statistics

So in the 5 years since 2001 there have been:

13,964 offences which gave a DNA Match

Statistically this would give:

6,982 of those being DNA detections and leading to a prosecution.

3,491 were detections that required the database

1,746 lead to convictions.

873 of the offenses were punished with custodial sentences

However the 13,964 offences fingered 6,290 individuals because many criminals commit multiple crimes. So the number of people convicted would be less than 873. If the people that were matched with more than one offense were more likely to be convicted then the number of people convicted would be less than 582, maybe a lot less. Otherwise between 582 and 873.

So statistically you are looking at between 1-8 convictions for murderers(since they'll always get a custodial sentence) if you are looking at it statistically. Or in other words 1 or 2 convictions for murder in a good year. So up to now we are looking at between 1-12 convictions.

However, you would also need to take a qualititive look at this. DNA would be more useful for something like burglary(and hence why there are so many repeat offenders found using the NDNAB). It is less useful for something like murder where other things like finding the motive for the crime will lead you towards the suspect, at which point you can check their DNA against the crime scene. So it is a very real possibility that no convictions have been found because of the database extension in the last 7 years.

The salesmanship of the NDNAB reminds me of the salesmanship of WMD...

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Gordon the Cowardly

If we implanted explosive devices in the heads of all British people at birth that were set to go off when the individual had murderous thoughts, then we'd have prevented between 700 to 800 murders last year. Many more would have died as a result of the devices... but hey, they were guilty of being potential murderers, so they deserve what they get. Or is this, perhaps, a little extreme even for Brown?

The brutal and harsh truth is that by the year 2100 we'll all be dead whether we're murdered or not, and so will all of our loved ones. Most of us will have had unpleasant deaths, and many of us will have had very painfull deaths. Far more of us will have died early as a result of smoking, drinking, over-eating, driving or being depressed than through murder. Of course, no one wants to die before their time, and no society should tolerate murder... but there are limits, and allowing the fear of one very unlikely cause of early death to completely overshadow the enjoyment of life seriously degrades the experience of being alive for many people.

Gordon Brown is a coward on all the behalf of all of us. He fears things that many of us do not, and feels a obliged to overshadow all our lives with his own personal paranoias. Considering he has no democratic mandate, I think he's overstepping the bounds of acceptable governance and needs to be chucked out ASAP.

My vote is for an Autumn election this year.

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Pirate

By the same logic

All 13,964 offences would never have been commited had the population of the UK been locked up in labour camps, I guess that's going to be in the next Labour manifesto.

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Ian
Happy

Gordo's statistics ridiculous?? Surely not!

So after all the "no more spin" promises, now he says 114 murderers who don't even exist would have got away? How exactly does a hypothetical murderer get away? Are the victims hypothetical too? So are they really getting away with anything?

I'm going to try something like this on my next tax return.

"If I hadn't spent £5,000 on beer then the brewers would have made hypothetically £2,000 less profit and of that we esimate that the treasury would have made £800 in coprporation tax that would otherwise have walked away scot free. So I want £800 tax back please."

It might work...

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Coat

Wonder if they kept my DNA...

when i got done for drugs offences at 14 years old last year.

god knows they gave me a hard enough swabbing, twice.

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Unhappy

Magna Carta - RIP

And why, exactly, do we not trust politicians ?

To think this man is our (unelected) leader.

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Anonymous Coward

Even if he's right...

...it's hardly an acceptable justification. So, 114 people in the database went on to murder other people - so what? If you take that to be a justification for keeping people in a database, you're damned either way. Even if you suggest that it's not EVERYONE who should be put in, you're saying that there should, instead of normal citizens and those who have committed crimes, there are, in fact, three kinds of people - normal citizens, citizens who might commit crimes, and citizens who already have.

This would seem to set a dangerous precedent.

To argue against Brown by saying that those 114 people are a fabrication is tantamount to accepting his line of reasoning, which is the true soul of the matter. Implying that this course of action is tolerable as long as it is effective is horrifying in the extreme.

I would say, "Is this what you expect in a free country", but, as an American who reads this site regularly, it appears that is already a moot point. For England, the question is obviously not whether you let your country become a police state, but - most likely - how much you can manage to slow its advance. I think that any potential for reversing the trend is long gone.

For my part, I can (as a progressive) find ironic comfort in our own Supreme Court's decision regarding gun ownership. Any country so obsessed with freedom as to retain that one - in a world which has largely turned in the opposite direction - will probably not be registering a quarter of the population as potential sex offenders and a large chunk of the rest as potential murderers. At least, I can hope.

One interesting thing I've considered recently is this: Pistols and shotguns assuredly will not win us a war against our own army. But if enough people would force soldiers to kill them rather than just subdue them, those soldiers may be much more reluctant to attack their own neighbors.

For your part, though, I see no need for armed conflict to subdue your population - and that makes oppression that much more palatable for the lackeys doing the oppressing...

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Coat

I wonder

how much all this costs per crime solved and whether it would be cheaper to scrap it all and make plod think for once rather than simply fishing in the database.

Mines the one's with scraps of hair from the barbers in the pockets for leaving false clues.

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"We don't lie, we use statistics."

I am fully convinced that the Supreme Leader has got it into his head that he can use your DNA sequence as a unique key for the National Identity Register - probably on the basis that it can't change unlike iris patterns and finger prints.

Every time he opens his mouth he says something that's either retarded or just an outright lie.

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Pirate

Is Gordo's DNA profile on the Database?

How about the profile's of his Tonyness and the rest of the cabinet?

Somone should get their DNA and enter it into the Database... and replace every (non-convicted person's) DNA profile with that of a member of the cabinet.

Given how poorly most things that the govt IT develops are secured, that shouldn't take too long... :-)

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Stop

False positives

By the same statistical analysis, as used by our beloved PM, how many false positives would have been generated?

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Black Helicopters

i don't care

GB can quote figures till his other eye drops out. I don't care. Somethings are just wrong. The governemtn cannot be trusted to keep data securely, therefore they should basic principal and keep the minimum amount of data. It is not "theirs" my information belongs to me. This creeping presumption that they own everything is driving me nuts.

Before the IDtards get flaming about the government able to handle data, mine was on the MOD laptop that went missing. They wrote to me to let me know. They wrote to the wrong address...

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Pirate

"over the age of ten"

Why? Why aren't 9 year olds' profiles stored? Their DNA won't be changing... It would be way more efficient to profile them while they are prenatal. It would even stop so many of those people who use stillborn babies' birth certificates for fake IDs. While we are at it why don't we genetically tag people with their name? Should be dead easy to write it in - use ASCII=>Convert to binary. Represent the binary with the alternation of whichever base pair you prefer. For additional redundancy you could even use one pair for a 0 and the other pair for a 1 in the correct sequence. Built in parity checking!

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Computer says no

As a matter of interest, can I, uncharged, refuse to have a DNA swab taken ?

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Ash
Pirate

No Confidence

Start the vote, folks.

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Tom
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@Dan,

The second they charge you... wether this sticks or not, the DNA record does.

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Anonymous Coward

@Alex

"So why not just follow this through to its logical conclusion and lock up everybody? No more crime of any kind..."

Actually, I believe that the logical conclusion was reached some time ago by Judge Death (from 2000AD) - all crime is comitted by the living, so life itself must be a crime.

The crime isss life. The sentance isss death....

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Gordo @ 100%

Surely the only statistic worth quoting where TUL* is concerned is from research showing that 100% Gordo is 100% harmful to 100% of the population.

(Actually, the last bit was 99.9987654321% to account for those friends of Gordo's who benefit from his patronage.)

* The Unelected Leader

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Flame

Re: Worse than this ,has ...

@AC: "I just hope that Brown and all the Government get taken to hospital for some minor ops and have all their organs taken whilst still alive ."

I'm afraid this has happened already. Most of them seem to have their brains missing.

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Answers

@keiron d

> Wonder if they kept my DNA...

> when i got done for drugs offences at 14 years old last year.

> god knows they gave me a hard enough swabbing, twice.

Yes they did. I got done for juvenile naughtiness back in 1985. As it was a juvenile offence, the police were legally obliged to delete the record when the punishment was finished (in this case when the 18 months probation was up). Don't ask me how I know, but the record was still there 10 years later. Once you're in, you're in.

@Dan

> Obliged?

> Good article. At what point can I be *forced* to have DNA

> swabs/fingerprints taken? I.e. if the bobbies just wanted to

> question me for something I can refuse, but would I lose this right

> when charged or what?

When you're charged of a 'swabworthy' offence. Which is almost everything.

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@Tom

You can be dna swabbed when you are arrested. There is no requirement for a charge to be subsequently made.

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Pirate

Lethal skunk

Well, according to Brown, there are lethal (ie. will KILL you) varieties of cannabis around. I think the Big Lie is just part of the propaganda nowadays.

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Thumb Up

Please everyone, think of the children

But think of all those children whose lives havent been taken.

That's got to be reason enough to keep the database, surely...

- Mr G. Brown

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Dead Vulture

An innocent's question...

"...At what point can I be *forced* to have DNA swabs/fingerprints taken? I.e. if the bobbies just wanted to question me for something I can refuse, but would I lose this right when charged or what?"

I am sure you have seen the way photographers are treated in an earlier Regi item...

The answer to your question is: You can be forced to have DNA swabs/fingerprints taken whenever the police want you to, and when there are more/better armed police around you than you can resist. Rights no longer enter into it.

Our American friends are in no better situation at the moment, so the existence or not of a Constitution and Bill of Rights is pretty irrelevant. I am sure that Soviet Russia had an exemplary constitution....

Dead Reg as an illustration of what will happen if Plod decide to pay a visit to this uppity set of journalists...

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Paris Hilton

Ahhh - Precrime

Using DNA analysis perhaps it is possible to identify those with a tendancy to be dishonest.

We could then find then guilty of "precrime" and detain them, for thier own safety of course.

Paris, because she's not shy of sharing her DNA.

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Well...

They have my DNA too unfortunately. They took it after an incident where some chavs decided to give my car a good kickin' and then say I ran them over (how I managed that whilst parked up and in the local shop is beyond me). The police made me give my DNA which I quite happily obliged to as a good citizen thinking the whole thing would just get dropped and my DNA later deleted. No such luck, the whole thing ended up going to court and I had to get a solicitor who told me that I shouldn't have give my DNA and that under the circumstance at the time the police were 'breaking the law' by taking it. I then found out that even though I was later found innocent, the DNA that the police illegally took would get kept forever and there was nothing I could do about it. Don't you just love the fact the the police seem to be able to break the very law they're meant to uphold? I'll just be waiting for a knock on my door from the local rozz trying to fit me up because I used some random public toilet three weeks before something happened there...

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Black Helicopters

Meh...

Moving to New Zealand in October. I've given up. Seriously. I can't stand it any more. It's either emmigrate or pick up a rifle.

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