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back to article Police told: Delete old criminal records

The Information Tribunal has told five police forces to remove old, minor criminal records from their databases. Some of the cases date back 30 years. They include a person under 18 who was fined £15 for stealing a 99p packet of meat in 1984; a girl under 14 cautioned for a minor assault who was told her record would not be …

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Linux

About bloody time

About time someone started giving these nut jobs a kick in the crotch and forced them to delete the information. It is due to Police Forces like these that I will not give over DNA sample during searched where they appeal to a community to help.

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Paris Hilton

Oh noes...

this is becoming dangerously *sensible*! How dare the police be required to remove all those old records... after all, some of those petty criminals might have been keeping their collective noses clean for decades, just waiting for the day when they can safely repeat their offences.

It's about time someone stood up for the assault on the freedom that e.g. keeping records on people who have merely been questioned or arrested - without any charge - represents.

This one I'm definitely in favour of.

Paris, because she'd probably like some recordings removed...

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Paris Hilton

How about?

Lets throw away all police regards more than a year old, and how about we arm them with water pistols? After all, arresting criminals is traumatic for both the criminal and the policeman.

Lets also do away with DNA evidence. Who can say whether DNA is reliable? I cant see my DNA, can you? Its infringing on a criminal's rights for them to do this.

Actually lets remove law enforcement altogether. Who are we to say what people can and cannot do? If a man wants to steal, should we stop him? Doing so might damage his psyche. Lets just let people do what they want to do, its better for everyone that way.

Paris, because even she wouldnt miss the sarcasm in my post.

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Appropriate course of action????LULWOT?

I guess the most appropriate course of action you god dammed bunch of nazi's (Godwins rule?) is that you should goto the computer and type into their sql server "delete from criminal_database where innocent=true" and stop interfering with our lives.

I dont suppose for a second that anyone actualyl things they might do this and their view of "appropriate action" would be to delete them from the active database and keep a backup, just in case

And people wonder why the police arent respected, respect is earned, they havent earned it and most of the time, they arent "protecting the public" as in "protecting themselves" and chasing minor criminals cause "the numbers are good"

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Rob

And there was me thinking...

...that you'd chosen Paris because her DNA gets about a bit.

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Anonymous Coward

Wow is ACPO like a shadow government now?

"Ian Readhead, Deputy Chief Constable of Hampshire and ACPO lead on data Protection and Freedom of Information said:"

Wait, does ACPO have like a shadow leadership now, with shadow ministers in charge of different policy areas? That's quite terrifying that the police chiefs think it's their job to set policy rather than just implement it.

A quick check on their website seems to be more troubling. They seem to be a private company paid for by contributions from the police departments with chief constables in charge of different policy areas, and also get a grant from the Home Office.

That would mean there is a policy making unit outside of government that does not answer to government, unlike other lobbyists they would have direct influence on implementation, e.g. decide that taking photographs in public places is a crime and then implement it in their role as chief constables to get people arrested for taking photos in public places.

Freedom of information act request 2256 shows they received undisclosed lump sums plus a grant of 3 million from the Home Office plus and unidentified sum from local police departments. As a private company someone should pull their accounts to see what the rozzers are up to, this is what the Home Office suggests you do if you want to know how much ACPO makes and what it does with it, Home Office does not know how much money ACPO receive.

el Reg care to take a look? That income from ANPR seems interesting, but I'd also like to see how they get their money and how it's spent.

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Black Helicopters

Any chance of North Yorkshire following suit?

I was arrested in Pickering a few years ago, simply because I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Because I'd had a few, the Police wouldn't take my statement and forced me to spend a night in the cells.

Let out the next day with no charges once they realised I had nothing to do with it but they still have my fingerprints and DNA and I'd rather not be part of the Government's Orwellian plans.

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I bet Jacquie Smith is livid

GOOD!!!!!!

How dare we remain a free state under her rule....

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Typical plod.

"The National DNA Database contains some 4.2m records, including those of 100,000 children and half a million people who have never been convicted or even cautioned for any offence."

And when we have Chief Constables who understand the way the DNAD works and *truly* understands the nature and danger of false positive results, maybe they'll be competent to keep that amount of information.

The guy who was charged with the Omagh bombing was picked up on the back of a DNAD match. Unfortunately, the same sample also matched some 14yr old from Nottingham (who was six at the time). Given that he couldn't possibly be involved, it must be the other match that is the guilty person!

Try again, plod.

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Old Records - Yes, DNA - No

I agree that criminal records have a shelf life (some should never expire, but that's another story). I can't see any arguement for why DNA shouldn't be kept. It's not as if the police can go and get a sample from the computer and liberally sprinkle it around the scene of a crime.

If someone is pulled over for drink driving and it is subsequently found that this person is a mass rapist, then I'd call that a result. If a body is identified using the DNA database then that's also a result.

Does this arguement boil down to: Give us criminals a fair chance guv?

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Pirate

"the most appropriate course of action"

... is to do as you're bloody well told and stop thinking you've a God-given right to behave like Dirty Harry.

@Jamie - absolutely right, and I won't volunteer DNA for exactly the same reason.

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Ash
Unhappy

suddenoutbreakofcommonsense

What's going on here? Have we invaded Iran? Are we sending more UK troops to Afghanistan?

There must be a reason for this good news... They don't do stuff like this unless there's some ulterior motive.

Maybe they'll pull "This guy who stole an A4 envelope from a newsagents in 1958 had his records deleted and got a job in a school, went on to stab 76 pupils and also exposed himself indecently. WE NEED TO KEEP MORE RECORDS FOR LONGER!" on us, sealing the deal.

I don't believe there is any good news, when talking about government and policing, anymore.

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IT Angle

Hurrah for common sense

About time the stasi had their wings clipped on their campaign to acquire every piece of data possible. One of the example cases was from 1984 where serious crimmynal had nicked a 99p slab of bacon, and yet their details had been kept on an electronical file for 20 years.

As it's government however they'll probably burn all the 'deleted' records onto CD-Rom and lose them in the post to Jacqui Smtih...

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Stop

Fingerprints

I once voluntarily gave my finger prints to police many years ago and was told at the time that they would be destroyed once the investigation was completed (I refused to give them otherwise). I have often wondered if they actually were destroyed as promised, or if they still appear on some database somewhere. Anyone know of a way to check up on these type of things?

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Checking their records under (presumably) data protection legislation

So let's say hypothetically that you were a person who had been arrested by West Midlands about 15 years ago when you were a teenager and released without charge - how would one go about finding out if they still held records on you?

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Wot no DNA

You mean the Police are going to have to go back to actually trying to solve crimes instead of picking someone off the Database?

"its sad but true did you know that the scottish are promoting yob culture because gordon is too busy lining his pockets all true brits should let boris johnson sort it out soon this country will be majority muslim with a mosk in every village" etc.

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Syd

Moot Point

Isn't it a bit of a moot point whether the records are on the database? The people involved still have to declare them, and remain (in effect) barred for life from helping out at their church Sunday School, because they stole 99p 30 years ago. (And that is the real problem here - because EVERYBODY has committed some criminal offense at some point in their lives - it is just that most of us are lucky enough not to get caught.)

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Boffin

@Richard Harris

See the comment below yours, pointing out exactly why I'd rather they removed my DNA record. If I ever get falsely matched to something, I don't trust the Police to be competent enough to realise it's a false match.

Shifty of Pickering

(Lab tech, because Grissom wouldn't get it wrong.)

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Anonymous Coward

ACPO spawned ACRO in 2006

You know the more I dig the more I don't like this.

It seems that in 2006, ACPO formed another company ACRO to handle identity things. So criminal information sharing is done through ACRO (remember we're talking about private companies run by acting police chiefs here). With the rules being decided by the private company board rather than elected officials.

Interestingly enough, to get a visa for immigration to Canada, New Zealand, Australia or the USA (Those 4 countries are the same ones we have the signal intelligence agreement with) you need a police certificate which is now handled by this private company, according to it's own rules, directly negotiated with foreign embassies.

http://www.acpo.police.uk/acro/aboutacro.asp

Odd.

Then there's the NPIA, also another ACPO company created in 2005. You can read their minutes here:

http://www.npia.police.uk/en/5905.htm

"Item 7: National DNA Database – B/08/3/7 7.1 It was reported that Gartner had been commissioned to report on the best means of transferring the National DNA Database to the Agency with the lowest risk, cost and disruption."

You see how policy is written here, not in the government. Apparently DNA database will be transferred to ACPO. Perhaps Icahn will buy shares in them and get himself on the board?

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Pork and Beef

Don't trust the police

No justice, no peace

They got me face down in the middle of the street

Pistol-whip me with they heat

Chicken shit, sizzling

Tryin' to serve me with the all-you-can-eat murder beef

I'm a young black heterosexual male

Don't drink, drank, don't smoke, don't sell

That's the real reason why they want me up in jail

They want me to fail

I resist and rebel.

A "Run Away From Police" day. . . make sure you're innocent of everything, but see a pig and run away immediately. Their small authoritarian mind will immediately think you're guilty, particularly if you're black or asian. Run for a while, then let them arrest you. Let's see how quickly they get bored :p Just don't do it near a tube station.

And two laws for us nowadays - off-duty pig kills mother in front of family - gets off with it. First thing he was worried about was losing his job - but no danger of that these days - see here http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/7511947.stm

He'll ride a desk for two years and be getting backslaps down the pub. We're just lucky that some of them find their way into the hills and don't come back.

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@Richard Harris

1/ Why should criminal records have a shelf life but DNA be kept forever, surely previous convictions for similiar crimes are a valueable tool in building up evidence beyond reasonable doubt?

(I agree with you on this but can't see why you want to treat DNA and records differently).

"If someone is pulled over for drink driving and it is subsequently found that this person is a mass rapist, then I'd call that a result. If a body is identified using the DNA database then that's also a result."

I disagree with long term storage of DNA, and what I can never understand is why people who aren't are happy for criminals DNA to be stored but not their own. Surely if we DNA sample everyone it'd catch more criminals.

Personally I find the mindset that criminals should be permanently relegated to a lower class of society quite sad, and doubt very much that permanent stigmatisation has a beneficial effect.

Even ignoring this issue DNA is not a cover all solution, if you have already have means and motive then DNA is a good deal clincher. Pulling in everyone whos DNA happens to be sufficiently similiar to a sample at a crime scene is not good policing or beneficial overall.

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Anonymous Coward

Typical Reaction from ACPO

Mention the Bichard Inquiry and hide behind the "We must protect the children!" war cry.

The Police authorities will appeal and appeal and drag the cases out for as long as they can until the government changes the law so that every little involvement with Police, PCSOs or anyone in a uniform gets recorded on the all seeing central database.

The Bichard Inquiry made recommendations. The Information Tribunal has given you a direct instruction. The most appropriate course of action is to stop fannying around and do as you're damn well told!

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Linux

@Richard Harris

Richard think about one simple little fact.

30 years ago when they were taking fingerprints and storing them they could only compare these fingerprints. Today you could using the correct equipment print it off and plant it at a crime scene.

Who is to say this is not going to be the case in a couple of yeays with DNA.

With the way that these bunch of power crazy nutcases are currenlty cracking down on our civil liberties in the name of protecting freedom. I would not put it past them to do this to shut up a person who is speaking out against them.

Only the guilty have anything to fear. One big problem with this statement. Guilt is perceived by the few in power, so a political activist could be put in here. Sort of the way that the FBI have people like Martin Luther King Jr, and John Lennon on watch lists from when they were alive.

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Sensible ideas emerge for once

Yes, we need effective ways of tracking down criminals. But no, it isn't more important than anything else in society. If a few more criminals escape justice (and let's face it a huge number will do so regardless), then it isn't the end of the world. If we preserve some freedoms as a result, that's a sensible balance in my view.

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Joke

@Chris Thomas

You're mistaken in thinking the Police database has an "innocent" column. If you're in the database, your guility.

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@Richard Harris

""If someone is pulled over for drink driving and it is subsequently found that this person is a mass rapist, then I'd call that a result.""

the only reasion that a persons DNA and mass rape crime will be on the database is if they where comvicted and sentanced and the relised after serving there time if tht is the case why dose the person pulling them over for drunk driving need to now that?

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Dan
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Stop

Translation

"“We are very disappointed with the decision of the Information Tribunal today, which could have far-reaching implications for the police service as a whole. [...] It is now important that clear national guidelines are put in place so that forces take a consistent approach to the retention of criminal records. [...] We will now take some time to discuss these implications with the service and decide on the most appropriate course of action.”

This means...

"We want to keep as much as we can but we're just one piddly force. We're going to use this chance to get together with the rest, use the police service as a lobby group, and go after the government. After all, the government has used the argument 'it's what the police have asked for so we must do it' now so many times now that they can hardly turn us down. In a few months the government will tell us that it's fine to keep as much as we can so we're going to carry on doing what we're doing until then anyway. After all, it's the status quo and there aren't any clear national guidelines telling us that the status quo is wrong."

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b

re: How about?

Where is the belming icon?

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Happy

Think on the benefits

If they delete all those records then any future searches will be much quicker, and perhaps suspects will be fund sooner. (If that is the way these things work)

And it looks like we have part of an answer to the question "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?".

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Recovering your data stored by the police

If the police are storing your data using the Data Protection Act then you can submit to them a 'Subject Access Request' for all records containing your personal data. All Organisations that comply to the Data Protection Act have to grant these within (i think) 10 days or a month (cant remember which). Most organisations charge to £10 for the privilge.

Being the police though they'll probably fob you off with the 'we're too busy catching dog poo droppers to possibly handle that' line, or Legislation? we dont follow Legislation!!!!

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Dead Vulture

Just some logic and consistency please

I still don't understand the logic of taking and keeping all of this DNA.

The main argument seems to be 'think of all those 20 year old rapes we solved because we pulled someone over for not having a numberplate light'. To which my response is 'Why are we waiting for someone to offend again before we can catch them. Logically, we should DNA test everyone. Think of all those unsolved cases we could solve now, and all of those cases that could be solved instantly in the future! '

Of course that runs straight into the eroded freedoms argument. So we cannot do it fro everyone, but only some people. So why take the DNA of someone with a blown numberplate? It is likely to solve a 20 year old spate of unsolved blown bulb crimes? Do all rapists have blown numberplate lights?

There is only two logical and consistent arguments for taking and keeping DNA.

1. Take everyone's DNA, irrespective of their personal freedoms

2. If you want to limit the taking of DNA to keep personal freedoms, take only DNA for the purposed of solving a crime and only keep that DNA on conviction for serious crimes for which there is a risk of reoffending.

We are stuck is this strange illogical position where the police seem to be thinking up any excuse to take as much DNA of the UK population as possible (and I do mean 'excuse', not 'reason').

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Stop

RE: Old Records - Yes, DNA - No

The problem with keeping innocent DNA on the database is that it's incredibly easy to pick up DNA from random sources.

Going back some 4 years or so, I was on a course where the head of Manchester's Forensic Dept was taking us for a lecture and detailing a new DNA amplification technique they tried on a sandwich someone had taken a bite from.

They were somewhat surprised when the baker's DNA turned up.

From there, it's easy to imagine that if the baker is in the database the police have an easy slam-dunk, as the public knows from the TV that DNA is infallible.

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@Richard Harris

Check out the first comment here:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/06/29/brown_dna_database_innocent_genewatch/comments/

Then have a think about it. Your DNA can soon be sprinkled about quite liberally at the police lab once they pull you in.

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@Johnathan and the story

You keep relevant information. You keep finger-prints and DNA of convicted criminals.

You don't keep finger-prints and DNA from people who are never charged or who gave them voluntarily to help with a single crime or indeed where they were given when the person was a minor.

I do like the fact that, in the face of being told to do as the ICO said, the police-muppet invokes one of the two law creation devices - in this case he went for paedophilia.

The case in question, the Soham murders, I always love when they bring that one up, since Huntley wasn't employed at the school where the kids came from, his partner was. So we could, maybe, have got him stopped from working at a school - still wouldn't have stopped the crime.

We need a clue icon, so we can give them to those "in charge", since they appear to lack them just now.

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@Syd

You can still get roles in charity work such as you mention with a criminal record. It depends on the offence and the chance of repeat. CRB checks etc bring back information for the organisation (charity) to make an informed decision on.It does not come back with Yes or No.

Anyway, there is a good reason to get rid of all the chaff. Reduce the amount of storage space required ;)

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Read the last quote...

"The Home Office said it would consider the recommendations and consult with police before making any decision. "

.. means they'll set up a panel of 'experts' (funded by us of course, probably to the tune of multiple millions) who'll take 5 years to decide that they're not going to do anything about it and by which time most people have forgotten.

This announcement means absolutely nothing with that last statement in there.

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Anonymous Coward

ACPO release some documents with Word revision histories

ACPO CRIME PREVENTION INITIATIVES LIMITED Company No. 03816000 (The rozzers private company), releases some documents in word format, where they forget to remove the revisions.

Some of the deleted bits are very revealing. Best to grab as many documents as you can before they clean up the deleted bits. Sections of how to market ANPR to the local media, and requirement to maximize the revenue from ANPR or they'll lose it as a source.

www.acpo.police.uk/asp/policies/Data/anpr_strat_2005-08_march05_12x04x05.doc

Shows a large section 5 deleted, with some appalling stuff in it. Including the

"1.Hypothecation of FPN Revenue – Project Laser 3. Project Laser 2 proved the concept of hypothecating (netting off) fixed penalty notices from ANPR activity to provide additional income to forces, in order to fund the faster role out of ANPR activities. It also demonstrated that this activity did not lead to reduced arrest rates."

"Whilst hypothecation from ANPR activity will never fully fund all of a force’s ANPR activity, it can be useful in assisting developments. From April 2005, this facility is available to all forces. All Forces are urged to take this up, under Project Laser 3. In doing so, forces will be assisted by ongoing national developments and by good practice learnt from Project Laser 2. This should ensure increases in both the level of tickets issued and the income recovered from tickets issued. As such forces should aim from April 2005 to:"

"*Issue at least 310 FPNs per full time equivalent intercept officer per year (the average issued under Laser 2)

*Recover at least 50% of the face value of tickets (the average under Project Laser 2 was 42% with best performers reaching 60% and the worst only 20%)."

"The treasury has made it clear that unless income levels are higher under Project Laser 3 than under Project Laser 2, the scheme may be terminated in March 2006. It is crucial the service maximises this source of income now or face losing it."

"Media Strategy. A National ANPR Media Strategy, agreed with the Home Office and updated from time to time, is available. Home Office Ministers have launched public versions of the major evaluations of Project Laser undertaken by PA Consulting. ANPR should be regarded as a good news story for the police service and police forces are encouraged to pro-actively market ANPR successes within their local media, without disclosing detail of tactics. Advise on media matters is available form the National ANPR Co-ordinator."

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@Richard Harris

Um, I don't think anyone is calling for DNA collected from a crime scene to be destroyed. We're [I'm] calling for the DNA collected from people either helping the police or being arrested (without subsequent charge) to be destroyed.

Two points:

DNA is normally matched on a fragment, imagine how many matches would occur when 60 millions sets of DNA are on record. The results would be useless.

Your DNA is on record, you bump into a person on the street. Said person is murdered. How happy will you be when the police come knocking on your door? Basically it means they don't think about why they're enquiring about you, they just do it because a computer tells them to.

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@James

Easy - Just go out and commit the perfect murder but with one small exception - Forget to wear your gloves. Then if plod comes after you, you can complain that they lied about destroying your dabs.

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IT Angle

@Syd

If they're deleted from the DB, why should the people have to declare them anymore?

It's not as if it can be checked.

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Paris Hilton

@James

Commit a crime and leave your fingerprints!

Paris because it's the sort of logic that she'd use!

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That kind of extensive DNA database is dangerous

because of the pervasive delusion that if they find a DNA match on the database they must be guilty. In these cases there is (usually) only 1 true positive. If you have several million people on the database and you have a false positive rate of about 0.001% then that still leaves you with 10+ false matches and with no guarantee that your actual perp is on the database and hence amongst the 10. (that is also glossing over the likelyhood of a false negative...)

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@peter - inoccent column

He isn't mistaken, PNC actually has an 'offender' flag, it also contains information for many non offenders who are link to offenders, for example solicitors, health workers, social services, etc...

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Re: Wow is ACPO like a shadow government now?

The short answer to ACs question above is "Not yet". They have currently promoted themselves to being the National Police Force, to whom all other police forces are subservient. They got to that position, it would seem, by doing all the things that the hard line Home Office control freaks wanted, and the politicos chose not to stop. These same Home Office people have been pressing for the re-introduction of ID Cards ever since they were abolished after the 39-45 war!

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@richard - the word was 'subsequently'

"the only reasion that a persons DNA and mass rape crime will be on the database is if they where comvicted and sentanced and the relised after serving there time if tht is the case why dose the person pulling them over for drunk driving need to now that?"

Subsequently means afterwards.

So there's a mass rape with DNA evidence left.

Someone is pulled over for a traffic offence (and arrested) thus DNA is collected.

Computer flags up a match, and the mass rape is now 'solved'.

However this scenario isn't dependant on the police keeping innocent peoples dna, only on keeping it for offenders and unsolved crimes.

A better example as an argument for keeping it would be that you get mistakenly arrested whilst out shopping and your DNA is kept. Later (maybe years later) you decide to murder a few people and leave DNA evidence. Because of your previous mistaken arrest your dna is on the system and you are immediately caught.

I don't like that argument though, because if I decide to murder a few people and know that you were mistakenly arrested I can just collect some hair from your bath plug and distribute it around the scene, since you're clearly guilty I'm now going to get away with it!

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Joke

@peters joke

EPIC WIN!!!one1!!

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Re: Old Records - Yes, DNA - No

Well, DNA record is PART of the record, you doofus.

and if you meant "apart from the DNA", how is that going to help? you have a DNA match (this is already being proven to be a lot less useful as a unique match than the poilice say it is) how do you know what they were pulled over for?

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Pirate

'S obvious, innit?

We're ALL guilty - it's just that some of us haven't been convicted yet.

I know this is true - the delectable Jacqui told me......

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Black Helicopters

won't matter if they erase them or not

'Cause they've already been shared with George Bush and the war-on-terror (TM) - so there.

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Anonymous Coward

A strange angle from me today

I have no specific objection to the police having my details, as and when they acquire them by legitimate means. Random stops are not legitimate but being caught throwing things at trains or nicking petrol or excessive speeding etc could all require fingerprinting, ID verification by what would amount to reasonable means... if they stretch that to inculde DNA from a mouth scrape so what.

My concern though is what then happens to that data. Is it safe, is it secure, can it be tampered with, re-sampled or contaminated? If there is any risk whatsoever to the absolute unequivocal validity or security of the data retained on me it must be destroyed immediately after it's reason for sampling has been resolved for fear of raising a future false positive and thus permitting a situation to arise where the guilty might go free.

HOWEVER... I consider neither Greater Manchester Police nor the Good Old West Midlands Branch to be anything other than the evidence tampering SOB's that they have historically been shown to be and anything that they have a finger in is most certainly not EVER going to be fine by me.

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