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back to article Police to keep innocents' DNA despite human rights ruling

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 …

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Big Brother

Next step

Barcodes on the back of the neck and a chip inserted into your brain to stop all those nasty thought processes.

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WTF?

But they're innocent!

Someone is accused of crime, then found innocent.

Not, a "bit" innocent or "mainly" innocent; INNOCENT.

For whatever reason they were wrongly accused. Maybe through over-zealous police round-up of a target group, maybe through the vindictive accusal of rape by a trouble maker. It matters not one jot what was the original charge. This half-hearted fudge - typical of the present goverment's approach to law and order policies - has so many holes you could drive several carts and horses through it.

Here's an idea that I bet they haven't though of ;-). You are charged with wilful littering because as you drove along with car windows open, an old pay-and-display ticket blew out the window.

Case dismissed because anyone can see this was accidental not wilful. What if the original summons read ... littering and plotting to blow up parliament? Of course the parliament bit would be dismissed out of hand, BUT it was a serious charge of which you were found innocent. Good enough for the DNA-retention squad then.

Please can we have a new government* now? This has gone well beyond a joke.

*and as these arbitrary laws are being dreamed up by faceless civil servants directing a goverment without the wit or will to question them, can we have new civil servants too please?

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Big Brother

Contempt of court

European courts tells our home secretary to "delete these records". Our Home Secretary says "No". Thats contempt of court in my book. I look forward to seeing him up before the beak (yeah, right).

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What is the status of the government appeal

That was their excuse to do nothing up till now.

The clock should be running down on their final notice.

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FAIL

Nothing changes

The people don't give a hoot. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear.

You know, it's almost worth committing crime just to get yourself out of the running for being on some list somewhere; At least you're guaranteed 3 hot meals a day and free access to gym equipment. They can't even guarantee that to honest citizens.

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Silver badge

Oh dear

The retention of some DNA based on the nature of the accusation, as if there are different grades of innocence, is laughable, while the mere idea of holding onto an innocent person's DNA for any period of time without their consent is disgusting.

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Flame

How Hard Does Alan Johnson Not "Get It"?

Just how hard does Alan Johnson not "get it"?

With drugs, he plainly doesn't "get it".

With retention of innocent people's DNA profiles, he clearly doesn't "get it".

I'm sure there must be more stuff where he similarly doesn't "get it", but it seems, with these issues, he's trying very hard indeed not to "get it".

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FAIL

It's not likely to be different under the Tories.

Chris Grayling was interviewed on Radio 4 this morning, and he gave the change in the law on double jeopardy as a reason for keeping DNA on the database for five years after acquittal.

Totally ignoring the fact that the police would take another DNA sample from the accused after they were rearrested.

.

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Grenade

Not all people declared innocent actually innocent

It happens appalingly often that people of whom it is an open secret "they did it" get declared innocent because of police and prosecution fumbles. That happily undermines the assertion that innocent means innocent.

Or at least I think that is the reason the government acts like this. It knows it has a bad case of fumbly fingers and sees technology as a blanket prescription against that, and nevermind the cost to its citizens. It believes it will be worth it in the long run.

As someone reasonably well versed in much of said technology, I disagree. In the strongest possible terms. Restore innocence by making police and justice more competent instead of incompetent but more and more overly powerful.

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Calm down....

One step at a time. They have agreed to 6 years rather than 12. Now lets work on getting it down another step.

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FAIL

Sad sad sad

It's all a bit depressing - nothing can be done about it with the current government. Change government? Not likely. We need a law (like in Australia) that makes voting compulsory.

The masses will vote as their parents have voted. People read papers less, the Sun won't change much any more. New Labour is still "cool" though Gordon has gone some way to make it seem very dour.

The Tories will put off potential voters because they want to increase taxes for most people but raise Inheritance tax levels for the super rich. The shadow chancellor is a muppet.

No one will vote Liberal Democrat because they think no one else is - and though Vince Cable is wise and right on most matters, the leader has a personality and gravitas deficit.

Sad sad sad. Now the US is likely to get healthcare and more social values maybe it's time to emigrate. Hold on, they just executed someone...

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Stop

But what about the cops

When I worked on the NDNADB there was a move to put the DNA of service police on it, for contamination elimination purposes, and the police unions complained that it was wrong, that it infringed their members rights.

So if your an innocent member of the public then hard luck, they'll keep your DNA for six years because obviously your actually a latent criminal and one day you'll really commit a crime.

You have to wonder why the police unions do not want their members DNA on there... not that there are any bent or dodgy coppers out there, heaven forbid.

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Badgers

worry is

That if the law enforcement agencies want your DNA, they can just charge you with something, resisting arrest would be favourite.

They should just take all our DNA and be done with it or they should ONLY keep the DNA of those convicted of a crime.

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Anonymous Coward

Innocent ++

Actually they're not just innocent, they've been CLEARED OF EVERY PREVIOUS CRIME FOR WHICH DNA IS THE DETECTOR. Because their DNA was taken and checked against outstanding crimes on the database and nothing found.

They are therefore CLEANER than the general population as a whole, and therefore LESS LIKELY to go on to commit crime for which DNA would help. So it makes LESS sense to keep their DNA that general random samples.

For a stable society you need to have a big gap between innocent and guilty. If you treat everyone as a criminal then you MAKE criminals. You take away the benefit of a clean life. You are a destroyer of society and the cause of social breakdown.

Look again at Jacqui Smiths claim, you'll see its of the form X is similar to Y, therefore this statistic for Z can be applied if I use Glenn Beck logic to suggest X is Z-like.

1. Jacqui Smith was investigated for fraud relating to her second home expenses claim and no charges were pressed.

2. People who are arrested and released like that are similar to people arrested and given trivial non custodial sentences in their reoffender rates.

3. We can keep prosecuted peoples DNA, just like we can keep that of rapists and murders.

4. 52% of convicted rapists and murderers go onto reoffend within 6 years of their release.

5. Therefore Jacqui Smith will likely offend within 6 year and we need to keep her DNA on file or she'll get away with it.

I Glenn Beck's Brain, am just saying.

And you can see the danger screaming out, right there in the Home Secretaries action. He decided that it would be OK to profile DNA for immigration purposes. So we will be the victim of pseudo science profiling under him.

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@Anji

You wilfully bought a pay-and-display tickt. You wilfully left your car window open. How in your right mind can you assume that you won't be convicted for wilfully letting the ticket blow out the window happen? You criminal!! Someone please take Anji's DNA sample and retain it indefinitely. For having weird thoughts.

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Anonymous Coward

Only two coherent positions

I can only see cogent arguments for two positions.

Either a) the material should be destroyed once it is no longer potential evidence (in this specific case) or b) the material should be kept indefinitely (in which case lukewarmdog's suggestion that we should all be on the database seems a natural corollary).

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how far has the country sliped

when we can even be arguing about weather INOCENT pepol should be on a criminal database

(yes ac they are inocent even if it is in your words only techonley inocent justice is blind they are inocent)

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@Original Ash

"The people don't give a hoot. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear."

Yet they all have curtains... Privacy is a fundamental right, just because you think you don't need it doesn't allow you to remove it from everyone.

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Numbers game

According to a quick search...

646 MPs,

2,875 MP's staff,

1,741Commons staff,

741 Peers,

450 Lords

150,000 Police officers (approximately)

We outnumber them by about 385 to 1 - the only conclusion I can draw from this is that people enjoy being shafted by the powers that be - there's no way they could force any issue without our implied consent.

Despite the government complaining about "political apathy" - secretly they must be very relieved - civil wars ensue when people get really angry about politics.

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Anonymous Coward

@CD001

You included the police, but the government control the Army, Navy and Air Force as well. We don't have the right to bear arms... there won't be a civil war and government knows it !

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Alert

Let's say ....

they rule that they can only keep the data for one year. Better yet, a day. WHO's GOING TO CONTROL THE DELETION OF THE DATA !?!?!?!? Really, once they have it, they have it. That's it. No turning back. Whoever believes that this will be a transparent process please send me an email. I have a Bridge to sell, in mint condition .....

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Joke

re numbers game

150,000 guns

15,000,000 bullets

that is part of the reasion

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Silver badge

Re: Not all people declared innocent...

There always have been and always will be cases where the police know who did whatever but can't prove it beyond reasonable doubt. Given that the number of such cases is relatively small it is no argument for keeping the DNA of everbody under suspicion. You conveniently give one example in support of retaiing DNA so I will conveniently give one against it. It is not unheard of for whole communities to be tested in order to eliminate people, once eliminated from an investigation there is no further legitimate need for their DNA to be kept.

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Anonymous Coward

"INNOCENT"

I'm certainly not in favour of retaining all this DNA, but courts don't find people "innocent"; they find them "not guilty", and they do that whenever they are less than (say) 95% certain that the accused did the crime. Most people found "not guilty" did commit the crime of which they were accused.

We treat these people as innocent as a matter of principle (and it's a good principle), not because it's true.

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RW
Megaphone

@ AC 11:47 GMT

Headlined: Not all people declared innocent actually innocent

You are wrong, vile AC. Innocence or guilt is a legal matter. Until a competent court finds you guilty you are innocent, no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

Underlying principle: it is better to let a thousand criminals go unpunished than to punish one innocent. This principle seems to have been jettisoned by gov.uk, I must add, which is a tribute to the inefficacy of its police force. The coppers are simply too lazy to compile the evidence needed for a conviction; it's far easier on the poor dears to lower the standard to be met.

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Anonymous Coward

@AC 15:57

"Most people found "not guilty" did commit the crime of which they were accused."

Ridiculous assertion with no foundation.

A friend of mine was at a party where someone was depressed and sadly later committed suicide. Everyone at the house was initially arrested on suspicion of murder and subsequently released when suicide was determined to be the cause of death. None of them committed murder. It is routine to detain everyone at the scene of a death. There are lots of other instances.

You are correct though that not guilty does not mean innocent. I prefer the Scottish term unproven. Either way, no excuse for recording everyone's DNA.

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Anonymous Coward

This is why we need rights

"Most people found "not guilty" did commit the crime of which they were accused. We treat these people as innocent as a matter of principle (and it's a good principle), not because it's true."

Not only were they found innocent of the crime they were charged with, their DNA was checked against every crime scene DNA and no match found or no evidence found to prosecute.

So you can say, 'no smoke without fire', and claim their DNA needs to be retained just in case. But you are ignoring that their DNA WAS checked against the outstanding crimes and NOTHING found.

If I took everyone in Parliament and took their DNA and checked it, I would have a higher chance of finding an outstanding match in the DNA crime list, than if I took the same number of people who have been arrested and cleared.... because those people had their DNA already checked!

So if you want to argue that, then it's an argument to keep *all* DNA for *everyone* *forever*. Not keeping the DNA of people with the LOWEST probability of matching! Lower than a sample of people in Parliament!

The disgusting thing here is that Labour can't do this with the cooperation of the people in a honest way, so they're reduced to doing by stealth.

The police who think they're on a separate database, can think again. As soon as a rozzer commits a serious crime, their profiles will all be placed in the main criminal database and checked each time new crimes occur, and profiled for tendency to crime/disease/anti social behaviour/ leadership / insurance/eugenics all the nasty stuff Labour are unleashing.

The police will not be immune from this, anymore than they are immune from the RIPA searches their bosses do on them.

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sauce for the ganders, too

I am in favour of reducing the sentences of those responsible for this decision by 50%.

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Silver badge
WTF?

We need a "Weasel" icon...

... because that's what this is, a Governmental weasel of the worst order!

They have already been *TOLD* that keeping DNA for innocent people is illegal, but, rather than complying with it, they've just weaseled and said "we'll compromise and only keep it for six years" as if that's somehow *less* illegal than keeping it indefinitely!

Another deplorable ignoring of people's rights by a Government that has lost all credibility.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Chris W Re: Not all people declared innocent... and Re: RW @ AC 11:47 GMT

Thanks for the compliment, but no, I'm afraid I may not be right but I'm not wrong. At least over here there's been a spat of fumbly-fingered prosecution up to the point that everybody gotten sick of it, except the people who gotten a get-out-of-jail-free card out of it. The solution is to come up with a better, higher quality, streamlined, well-organized justice system. Provided, of course, it's there to mete out justice for actual harm, not prosecute people who've transgressed against some politicians latest fear or moral outrage.

That's where the rest of the comment comes in: ``Or at least I think that is the reason the government acts like this. [...]'' And, as I said already, if this is the case I can see why they're thinking it but I think it's the wrong solution.

It's a bit sad, really. Absolutely everything the nitwits in whitehall come up with is wrongheaded, misguided, ignorant, an abuse of technology, a full frontal assault on privacy, and an absolute disaster in the long term. I am tempted to write the Queen and ask her nicely to put them out of our misery, but I don't think it'll help any.

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Anonymous Coward

Innocent!

The suggestion that Police can "Know" who committed an offence but not have evidence to prove it

is ludicrous. If there is no evidence, how can they.

I would have hoped readers of this site would have been able to work this out for themselves!

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Paris Hilton

@AC 15:57

"Most people found "not guilty" did commit the crime of which they were accused."

Really, and you base that on what exactly? Research by the Jill "we make it up as we go along" Dando Institute of imaginary and made up research?

And your putting a lot of trust in a profession that only needs 5 gcse's at grade C to apply, its little wonder they have a nasty tendency to get it wrong.

Paris, a lot brighter than you are!

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Thumb Up

@ACs Re: Innocent ++; This is why we need rights

Thanks for these fantastic posts!

Now, how to boil it down to a conveniently concise, rhetorical question?...

Who would you rather trust?

Someone who was arrested, cleared, and who's DNA didn't match any on record from unsolved crimes?

Or someone who was never arrested, and therefore never put to the test, and might, for all you know, match DNA from unsolved crimes like rapes, murders, or whatever?

Who would you rather trust?

Someone who has been cleared of every crime for which there is DNA evidence? Or someone who hasn't yet been cleared of any of those crimes?

Seriously, who would you rather trust?

(Feel free to copy and paste my humble effort into relevant threads elsewhere.)

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Anonymous Coward

I sure hope that

The @AC 15:57 isn't in the jury of my peers should I ever end up unjustly at Crown Court.

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@AC Wednesday 11/11/2009 21:39 GMT

I didn't understand a word of that however, I seriously hope that if you ever visit a prostitute you remember to take your used condom away with you because noone would ever dream of planting your bodily fluids at a crime scene. Oh, and don't piss off your wife/girlfriend, a woman scorned and all that.

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Anonymous Coward

This is all rather difficult...

IF our Lords and Masters agreed, legislated and enforced that everyone (not some, not most - all people in this country) had to have an ID card and a single (perpetual) entry in the DNA database then we might get somewhere.

That would mean that anyone entering at any port or airport had to be checked and held until an entry was made and verified. Anyone leaving was checked so that crime and taxes could be verified. (No duplicates allowed...) Both these have obvious crime and tax avoidance advantages??

If the police wanted to check DNA from a crime scene or to verify that a youth was who they said they were then there could be no problem - surely?

Do you see Europeans or Americans or those with a financial history to hide or Senior politicians, world leaders and diplomats going for this? No, neither do I.

Do you see the technology being available to securely facilitate it any time soon? No, neither do I.

Do you see a Political will, or indeed a necessity, for it? No, neither do I.

SO were stuck with what we have. Innocent until proven guilty. If the state thinks it is a serious enough crime to prosecute then "they" had better get the evidence and make the case. It is not good enough to say 'Well they were found innocent but we know they did it" - That way lies "just cause corruption" and even greater contempt for the law and the police.

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Anonymous Coward

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.

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FAIL

@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...?

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Unhappy

@Graham Marsden

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.

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