back to article Top judge: put everyone in UK on the DNA database

One of the UK's top judges has thrown a grenade into the smouldering debate around the national DNA database, saying that everyone in the UK - including visitors from overseas - should be on file. Lord Justice Sedley, a senior appeals court beak, said the current situation was "indefensible." At the moment the database …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Then again

    you could get police officers out on the streets PREVENTING crime as opposed to running a database query to solve it later....

  2. threaded

    Worryingly this is a top judge

    It is quite worrisome that someone can reach such dizzy heights as to be a top appeal judge in England, and yet apparently not have a clue about what it means to be British.

  3. bobbles31

    ah well, looks like its time to emmigrate

    What position did this guy hold in the SS?

  4. Peter Davies

    Nothing to hide

    I've nothing to hide, I think it's a good thing to have everyone on file, I imagine that this could impact crime levels massively.

    I agree though, our poor performing government couldn't organise a piss up in a brewery, never mind the co-ordination of something on this scale. It will never happen, but I like the idea.

  5. Paul

    Why?

    Why do they want this? The police dont get acess to Voters records, Council Tax or any of the other infomation on people thats not relavent to an ongoing case, so why this?

    The only logical thing to do is to treat it just like other personal infomation they get when dealing with crime. I dont know what it is, but you can be sure they dont know where everyone in the UK even lives.

  6. Graham Marsden

    Presumption of what...?

    Has this Senior Judge never heard of the principle of "Presumed Innocent Unless Proven Guilty"?

    He seems to want to treat *everyone* as a suspect which means that if your DNA is somehow found at a crime scene (eg a criminal plants a hanky they've stolen from you) then you will have to *prove* that you weren't there and, if you can't, that's as good as a conviction.

    We already have a Government that wants to monitor our every move and make us have ID Cards and put us all on a National Identity Database, now we have the Judges and the Police saying that having everyone's DNA would make their job easier.

    I'm sure the Stasi and the KGB would have said exactly the same thing...

  7. Mycho Silver badge

    Good plan

    Next time a police employee wants to go out and commit mass murder he can not only know how to remove his own forensic evidence from the scene, he also has access to everyone's DNA and can therefore frame someone else into the bargain. Brilliant!

    Reference to Ipswich for the serial-killing copper of course.

  8. Andy Turner

    It *is* a deterrent!

    "you could get police officers out on the streets PREVENTING crime as opposed to running a database query to solve it later...."

    Setting up a system which means that chances are you'll get caught of any kind of crime, no matter how many balaclavas you wear *is* going to deter a lot of people from those crimes.

  9. Gary Littlemore

    Why not?

    I have to agree with this... The only people who have anything to worry about this are someone with something to hide. I have nothing to hide; it wouldn't bother me that my DNA is on a national computer.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Everyone?

    The database would never include everyone - it would only include the 99% of the population who cause no trouble - but would probably not include those who do not have addresses (they do have addresses, but have not registered for anything e.g. Car Tax so as far as the givernment is concern they would not show up) - I suspect also the super rich and top of the estalishment would not be included though this would never be admitted.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Peter Davies

    Do you like men or women?

    How much do you earn?

    Do you have any kids?

    Where do they go to school?

    What's your NI number?

    What credit cards do you have?

    Anyone who says they have nothing to hide is an idiot.

  12. Lickass McClippers

    'Nothing to hide'

    I love it when people crawl out of the wood work with this line. If you want to surrender your DNA, go ahead, but whilst I'm a law abiding subject, I'll resist any attempt to harvest my identity.

    We'll see how you feel about having 'nothing to hide' when you're implicated in a serious crime because some data entry monkey misspelt your name when they fed you into the grinder.

    Professor Stephen Bain makes a good point, "The DNA genie can't be put back in the bottle." However, I fear this genie may have already escaped its bottle...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Nothing to hide

    Some interesting reading for the 'nothing to hide' brigade, and for anybody else who finds it tricky to counter such arguments:

    http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=998565

  14. Mat

    Nothing to hide either

    But I'll never agree to having my DNA extracted and recorded on a DB.

    A) I don't trust them not to cock it up - and then I find myself in a completely indefensible position of having 'my' DNA found at a crime scene, hauled down the cop shop and accused of being a serial killer.

    B) It's *my* dna - not yours, not the police's, not the govenment's etc.

    C) It won't impact crime levels at all. Crime has bever diminished related to the likelihood of being caught - ciminals merely alter their behaviour accordingly.

    M

  15. Chris Miller

    Non-runner

    Only a senior judge ("What exactly is a 'web site'?") could think this idea was even a starter. Even ignoring the inherent implausibility of a government-sponsored large-scale computer system being successfully implemented, the logistical difficulties of taking DNA samples from 60 million people (plus many millions of foreign visitors every year) and matching their identities unambiguously should be obvious.

    As for his comment that "Disproportionate numbers of ethnic minorities get onto the database" - since the main way of getting onto the database is by being arrested, this would suggest that a disporportionate number of ethnic minorities get arrested, something that should not come as a great surprise to anyone living in the real world (I make no comment on the justice or otherwise of this state of affairs). For the same reason, I would strongly suspect that a lot more than 50% of those already on the database are male.

  16. g lane

    DNA and fingerprints

    Neither fingerprints nor dna are as good as you might guess from watching

    programs like CSI.

    With fingerprints, despite being used for over 100 years, there has

    never been a large scale research project that demonstrates that they are

    actually unique. While there are only 2 or 3 million sets of prints held by

    the police the chances of a false match are low. If the database held 60

    million or more sets of prints, false matches would be far more frequent and

    all would have to be examined and eliminated before trial.

    The same is true to a lesser extent for DNA. The database doesn't contain

    the full DNA of a person, just a small number of representitive markers.

    Bad processing of a sample might shift the markers and identify the wrong

    person. The more samples in the database the better the chance of a false

    accusation.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You say..

    "..it seems safe to say this proposal isn't actually achievable. Not at any kind of reasonable cost, anyway."

    Since when has unreasonable cost been a reason for our government not to go ahead with some massive (and often doomed) project?

    They just make-up a "reasonable" (ie. pure fantasy) figure to get the project accepted then open the floodgates of taxpayer's money and let it pour into their contractor buddies pockets while protecting the perpetrators of this utter fraud behind "commercial confidentiality".

    Allowing private companies involvement in public sector projects is like putting a necrophiliac in charge of the mortuary.

  18. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    What it means to be British...

    If by "what it means to be British" you mean "free from having your flesh and blood tracked by a police state, then His Honour's point is that a disproportionate number of chaps from ethnic minorities are currently not treated in the British way. Still, nothing new there. I bet there's a considerable bias in favour of blokes too.

    Of course, the sticking point here is that the government would be the one running the scheme. The scheme itself (collect samples, store, allow only properly authenticated police queries) is large but technically trivial. That means the government is probably the only institution in the UK that couldn't manage it.

    A pity really, since a *universal* and *secure* DNA database would probably be to crime prevention in the 21st century what sewage disposal was for public health in the 19th.

  19. David Neil

    Thank God for that border

    At least the Scottish Government have ruled this one out toot sweet.

    I get pulled over for a breath test (despite them not being allowed to do randonm ones), blow into the bag, the straw gets kept and my DNA is on Big Brothers database.

    Can someone please explain when we substituted a democracy for a totalitarian state? It's like a death by a thousand cuts, and crap like this makes me seriously consider emigrating.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Title

    I fancy putting a 24-hour webcam in Peter Davies' living room. if he has nothing to hide, he has nothing to fear.

  21. Alex Daulby

    Hey Peter, If you've nothing to hide....

    Why not throw your current salary and maybe a bit about your sexual preferences on the comments, I'm sure you have got nothing to hide, and certainly nothing illegal going on, but given those facts surely that's no one elses business.

    I don't quite understand how it will effect crime levels, as was previously pointed out, it may well help with detection rates in crimes where a DNA sample is left at the scene, but I would much rather not be sexually assaulted to start with, than be and the perp nicked.

    I take it our presumption of innoscence is just going to be brushed under the carpet?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to hide?

    @Peter Davies:

    So, you wouldn't mind being a suspect in a murder investigation just because your DNA was found at the scene of the crime? You do realise that even just being a suspect will ruin your life, make you practically unemployable and will follow you around regardless of your actual guilt, yes?

    With a national DNA database, every discarded cigarette or gum, every inadvertent sneeze or expectoration increases your likelihood of being suspected of some crime or another. If you've got dandruff, you're probably screwed.

    Add to this that the DNA analysis systems are even less accurate (many false positives) than fingerprint recognition systems (which are, frankly, often useless), and you're asking to be shoved in the slammer by a PC Plod who can't be arsed to do some real investigation, but has enough 'the computer says so' evidence to convince the ignorant, unwashed proles that make up our juries.

    I would love to have your faith in the system, but having actually been in a position to watch it work, I simply can't. The only way our justice system could be any less interested in justice is if we renamed it the 'Star Service,' and the courts were called 'Star Chambers.'

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    He's right, it's all or nothing

    You have a crime scene.10 DNA samples are identified, 5 are on file. Those 5 are investigated and a case built against the most likely suspect.

    Since DNA is the easiest pre-filtering technique, being on the DNA database will increase your chance of being arrested wrongly. Since the investigation will be easiest to build against someone who is on the DNA database, and that automatically excludes people who aren't, which are just a likely to have committed the crime if you're just randomly taking DNA samples.

    When it was only fingerprints, and fingerprints were only allowed to be taken from criminals, that wasn't so bad. Sure you could filter by fingerprints, but then you were really filtering by *known* criminals. The people not matched were *not* known criminals and so less likely to have committed the crime.

    So I'm happy that Peter Davis wants his DNA on file, but unhappy that he wants *my* DNA on file. If both of us leave DNA traces at a place that becomes a crime scene, no case will be constructed against me. He on the other hand, may also have done nothing wrong, but in a confrontational system, it's not whose most guilty, it's who a plausible case can be made against.

    So all or nothing is the only way forward. I vote for nothing. I don't trust any government not to expand the use of it given their history of expanding the user of everything. I think we didn't vote for ID cards, I don't see how we would vote for DNA samples, and is the UK a democracy or is Blair still Fuerer?

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I love the "I have nothing to hide" argument

    It is the view that we will never have a government that would use it for clandestine purposes, or to prosecute people for something that they will end up defining as illegal in the future. What faith they have in human kind. I admire that in a way because my bitter and cynical view is that future governments aside -

    (oh and the democratic argument? You really think that the people are listened to? Really? You think the government asked permission before it started meddling in schools and NHS to the degree they do? They listen to the media reports of what the media report people say, not what is actually said by constituents)

    - they couldn't even keep the THIRD PARTY organisations that ran the national criminal database thingy from being abused by staff.

    Joy.

    How many people reading this article actually trust the Government to be able to deliver what is promised?

  25. Rob

    I particularly enjoyed...

    I particularly enjoyed his comment about it not being fair that the database only contains criminals and people who have been picked up by the fuzz for one reason or another...

    So it's fair that I haven't done anything and yet should be included in a criminal database? As long as we rename it "The Database of Criminals and People We're Stitching Up" that should be OK?

  26. jon fisher

    DOES NOT COMPUTE

    this country gets more absurd every year.

  27. Anton Ivanov

    Loads of prons and cons with this one

    If I have to have a biometric on file and this is the way society is going I'd rather have one that works. From this perspective DNA is the biometric of all biometrics. It is practically impossible to fake.

    At the same time having everyone's DNA profie on file is a Pandora's box which will be very difficult to close once it has been opened. The scariest example of a potential threat from having everyone's DNA filed, are the possibilities to have a contract "accident" for the purposes of obtaining a perfect transplant donor. Genetic profiling by employees, insurance agencies, banks, etc comes as a close second. It will not take long for us to live under the control of GATTACA corporation.

    Though if I have to chose between 1984 which is clearly the current UK government vision and GATTACA I am not really sure what I am going to chose. Dunno...

  28. Tom

    re: Nothing to hide

    The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either - Benjamin Franklin.

  29. Fluffykins Silver badge

    Now I have a chance to prove I am who I say I am

    Why is the right to conclusively prove I am who I say I am (or as conclusively as possible at the moment) an erosion of civil liberty?

    Surely it's the people who want to take that right away from me who are eroding my civil liberty.

  30. Gordon

    Knock themselves out...

    I'm fine with it. I have nothing to hide, and my data is already one there anyway.

    What worries me is that it will be sold to life insurance companies one day and that'll make it harder for people with genetic tendancies toward (for example) heart disease to get life insurance, or maybe even to get a job. Once the job has farmed out to a private company who knows that will happen to the data?

  31. David Harper

    Re Nothing to hide

    I hope that Peter Davies doesn't have a close relative who is a career criminal, because there's a statistically non-negligible chance that his DNA "fingerprint" is a close match to that of his father/brother/cousin as far as the police are concerned.

    And don't even get me started on the fact that DNA amplification techniques are so sensitive that they could pick up the DNA of any number of innocent people who just happened to have been in the vicinity of a crime scene. We all shed copious samples of our DNA everywhere we go.

    Combine that with the eagerness of the police to arrest someone -- anyone -- to boost their performance figures, and the monumental ingorance of the legal profession when it comes to the subtleties of science and statistics, and you have the recipe for an entirely new class of miscarriages of justice based on the "infallibility" of DNA evidence.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hell, handcart etc...

    I just can't understand why this idiot is a judge. Lord Justice F'wit presiding.

    So you are now guilty until you can prove yourself innocent. The DNA records say you did it, now prove you didn't. Goodbye to that old outdated concept of innocent until proven guilty. All those people who say 'I've got nothing to hide, put me on it' are fools. When the late night knock at the door comes because someone didn't get an SQL statement right what will you say?

    Anyway, the gov couldn't run this database correctly. Just how soon would it be out of date? Place your bets on lots of false positives and lots of criminals missed. 'I couldn't have done that murder, the database says it's not my DNA. What gun? Nah, that's just a fag lighter, honest'.

    So, there are more ethnic minorities on file. Tackle the problem not the symptoms.

    Remove everyone from the current database if they are not convicted.

    Sorry for the rant but I'm quite cross.

    Uncle Node.

  33. James Grinter

    Unfortunately...

    Put simply, the more DNA fingerprints on file, the more likely there are to be duplicates.

    You'd be very unhappy to be found guilty purely on the basis of a DNA fingerprint match, with no proof that you were in the area at the time. DNA fingerprint matching, just like normal fingerprint matching, is not infallible if you massively widen the scope for matches.

  34. Tawakalna

    think you're ok because "you've got nothing to hide"? think again..

    ..anyone who believes that because they think they've got nothing to hide needs a very cold bucket of water throwing in their faces. My example will demonstrate why..

    Student has a minor run as a teen with Police whilst on a night out 9underage drinking at 17, hardly a major crime) Never been arrested before, doesn't know the ropes, gets conned by coppers into providing DNA sample, no further action taken. Couple of years later, same student writes out some Christmas cards, posts them at nearby postbox which gets robbed by some scrote later that night. Coppers find the postbag dumped some days later, DNA check the post, find the students DNA on the gum, arrest him for stealing post - BECAUSE he's the only one they can identify! Charged, prosecuted, and worries for months because he's being fitted up.

    Naturally it got thrown out in court by the judge as a case which should never have come to court, but not after months of fretting and stress and big legal bills that his folks had to cough up for. I could cite many many other examples but that's a simple one which demonstrates *exactly* why the Police should not be allowed to complusorily DNA sample everyone. They are too stupid and malicious to be trusted to use a DNA database properly and the CPS are too slavishly in thrall to DNA evidence, believing that it's infallible when actually it's very far from infallible.

    "I've got nothing to hide" yeh right, wake up and smell the coffee, chum. Especially when the ID Card scheme makes everyone a criminal, and the cops want to take DNA samples from driving offences like speeding or going through a bus lane or parking on a double yellow line? Still why should I care what happens to dolts like you? Me and my Mrs are buggering off out of Police state UK in a few of years and we're never coming back.

  35. Alastair Dodd

    Looks like he knows bugger all about DNA testing

    As it's quite likely that this sort of database would end up having people totally innocent being arrested and maybe convicted because their DNA matches - it's not the unique or at least the results from testing are not. Every matchup would produce 1 match for every 7000 comparisons.. how many people will that bring up with a national (and visitors too) that then need to be checked? I know profiling is bad, but you have to admit that someone previously convicted is much more likely to commit another crime.

    See http://dna-view.com/profile.htm

  36. simon perryman

    @ Peter Davies

    I think what you meant to say was "I have nothing to hide YET..."

    Just for the record could you give me some actual figures on how many crimes would be instantly solved by having everyones DNA on file? Forgive me for not wanting to buy into an idea like this because you imagine it might work.

    The cost alone is insane before you even think about the rights issues.

  37. Nano nano

    Not everyone ...

    Bet this policy wouldn't have pleased Bill Clinton if it had been in place on his visit - didn't his minders famously 'collect' a pub beer glass he drank from to prevent anyone getting his fingerprints or DNA ?

    Also bet Stella Rimington's colleagues wouldn't feature on the DB either, neither would Philip Green (et al) or any HRH .

  38. Blackadder

    re: Nothing to hide

    We don't want our DNA to end up with the insurance companies. I sure don't trust the government agencies with my DNA.

    I doubt this will have any lasting effect on crime. Criminals will adept to the new threat and possibly become even more violent. It's already a common practice for bank robbers and others to burn escape vehicles to cover their tracks.

  39. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    As a start...

    Tell the judge that as a start the DNA information is going to be taken from all the top beaks and let's hear the outcry that will start.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Nothing to hide

    Neither do I, but its a matter of principal. As a white middle class male I would get no hassle from the BNP, but I still woulden't want them in government.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    probably contraversial

    "Disproportionate numbers of ethnic minorities get onto the database ..."

    I wonder why nobody ever seems to interpret this as a disproportionate number of people from ethnic minorities committing crimes, rather than the usual stance of the police unfairly targeting ethnic minorities.

  42. Ashley Stevens

    Guilty until proven innocent

    Even assuming the database is properly administered and secure (unlikely) there are other severe issues.

    A crime is committed. There are (say) 4 suspects on the basis of non-DNA evidence. DNA is found and all 4 suspects are tested. One proves positive with a match probability of 1 in a million, so he is charged and the other 3 cleared. This is acceptable use of DNA, but it doesn't require a database.

    Now suppose the situation where everyone is on the database. Police don't bother collecting other evidence, they do straight for the DNA. They search the 60 million entry database and pull up 60 matches (at 1-in-a-million match probability) They then pull in all 60 'suspects' and then it's for the 'suspects' (59 innocent people and 1 criminal) to prove to the police that they are innocent. If they can't prove it they go down for a stretch.

    This is the police's preferred approach, but it is not acceptable.

  43. Cyberspice

    The wrong way around...

    Supposedly criminals are supposed to be found using traditional techniques and finger prints and DNA are used to re-inforce the evidence. This reverses this concept and is basically lazy.

    Why bother to put in some hard graft when you can just get a computer to come up with a suspect. Then all you need to do is to fit them up with a motive and lock them up and the job's a good-un.

    I remember seeing a discussion of DNA testing and one of the scientists involved pointed out that a database containing the whole population of the UK wouldn't work because you would get about 5 or 6 false positives for every sample. You need to limit the data base to likely individuals for it to work.

    In the end this is a comment from a judge who probably did some arts fag subject at Oxford and is a technical numpty. Unfortunately most of the government is made of similar individuals. The only silver lining is that this would be a British IT initiative and therefore doomed to failure.

  44. Mark O

    Ten quid says this judge is about to publish a book

    Do they seriously expect to take DNA from visitors to the UK? What will this do to the tourism industry? Just picture the queues at Heathrow, and the indignation of foreigners being treated like criminals.

    And how will they get DNA samples from residents? Are they going to round us all up and stick swabs in our mouths?

    It's interesting to hear just how many people would blindly accept this, but the whole debate about whether it violates our rights is irrelevant because the idea (at least in its present form) is simply unworkable.

  45. Alien8n Silver badge

    It's all about false positives

    If you add everyone in the country to the database there is only one possible outcome. It will become completely unusable. The reason for this is that what is stored is not a 100% map of your dna, but rather your dna profile. Already when chasing up leads using the dna database the police do not get a single result back, but many results and these individual results then have to be analysed, matched and investigated. Add the entire population plus visitors and the chances of false positive matches goes up dramatically which will result in thousands, if not tens of thousands, of false positives for every single search. In effect the more data you add the more noise you create until the noise washes out the data you're searching for.

  46. Peter Davies

    nothing to hide bashing

    I think all the nothing to hide bashers are missing the point.

    If by having everyones DNA on record it meant that serial killers, peadophiles, rapists & terrorists could be named and therefore prosecuted and locked up (and specially for those very liberal popeye types *why not castrate them while we've got em?) isn't it worth having everyones DNA on record? We're not talking about a complete George Orwell society, just having a name/NI number against a string of DNA?

    Isn't one life saved worth more than your principals on DNA sharing?

    I don't know the statistics of estimated crimes solved, but I'm damn sure the police don't solve all the serious crimes committed.

    Remember this is all hypothetical, I believe that it would deter people, but even if it didn't, I'm in favour of it, if it helps catching criminals quickly once a crime has been committed.

    This was never touted as a be all and end all to crime, I'd love to see police back on the beat instead of catching speeding drivers, but in the current situation/policies this isn't going to change quickly.

  47. Arif Rashid

    Its a good idea but

    While in theory its sounds like a good idea; sample everyone and then we always know who has been where, whenever someone leaves DNA. But there are a few minor problems in reality which will never allow a system like this to work:

    1) the Government is totally incapable of running large scale IT projects without c**king them up.

    2) this could be HUGELY misused, from everyone from criminals to the insurance industry (legally sanctioned criminals), banks (biggest crooks) and anyone else who would like to screw you over. Imagine never being able to buy insurance because you are a 'genetic risk'

    3) eugenics - controlled population births. The government could in theory decide who marries who for genetic consistency?

    4) false evidence - someone could easily steal or 'borrow' your DNA from a cup, fag butt, etc. and then plant it at a scene and you could be inadvertantly placed at a crime scene.

    5) cost - the cost of maintaining a system of this size would be immense, they might be able to add it to peoples National Insurance information, but i doubt it without some seriously expensive upgrades.

    I'm sure there are many more, but thats all i can think of right now. But as you can see, its far too risky. What the hell is wrong in society today? i thought once you have paid for the crime (providing its something minor) you are forgiven...

  48. Dean Burrows

    Reading all your comments make me ill...

    While I cannot personally come down on either side of this fence I have some points to make...

    I completely agree that a National database of DNA would NOT act as a deterrent for crime as I will explain later, but it would however allow the police to solve any and probably all violent crimes where DNA has been recovered, and when you see the news and hear about the severe inflation of gun and violent crime, armed robberies, and serious sex offences this for me can only be a good thing...

    A DNA database wouldnt deter crime on any level whatsoever as unfortunantly the bleeding hearts liberals and hand wringers who have spent the last god knows how many years taking away our rights to punish our children as we see fit, our right to defend our homes against invaders (remember the farmer who shot that burgular?) have essentially created the cultrue of yobbishness we see now, with kids who have no respect for parents or teachers, people with no respect for those people who take to the streets to uphold the law, and I can even remember a piece in my local paper not so long ago about firemen who refused to go to a housing estate in my town without police protection because they feared for their lives, after suffering attacks not just from 'hoodies' but from adults as well...

    Besides... I agree with a previous comment... it wouldnt happen cos the government and politicians of this country couldnt organise a decent knees up in a brewery....

    And if you feel outraged or offended by what I say... -shrugs- what can I do?

  49. George Johnson

    Funny stuff!

    No problem to me! Why? 'Cos there's not snowballs chance this will happen in my lifetime!

    It may get as far as planning then the some government prat will call in his mate from the board of directors of some class act like EDS and it's the air-traffic/ambulance/NHS cock-up all over again!

    Like many in IT, I've worked in government IT projects, they all start with wonderful ideas, then someone asshat decides to try to get it off the drawing board and make it work. It then gets passed through so many channels and beaten up so badly that it comes out a former shell of itself, that not even the combined resources of Mr Gates, Mr Ellison, Mr Jobs and Mr Nealy could get it off the ground!

  50. Matt

    nothing to hide

    nothing yet, nothing yet.

    Logically it makes perfect sense to have everyone on a register so you're easy to track down and detain if your dna is found at the scene of a crime. But is it the kind of justice we want to support, crime not happening becouse everyone is on a database, everyone behaving becouse of being placed in an orderly system, numbered, registered and tracked.

    Finding out what people were at a meeting organised for an anti government protest would be easy, turn up, sift the place for DNA and bingo, you have a list of names, cross referenece to the national ID register and you know where they all live, now just set the CCTV surveillance network to watch them 24/7 and you can ensure compliance.

    It all makes perfect sense when it starts. We blindly wonder into hell happily handing over our souls on promises of utopia until one day we realise we're in a cage. Pehaps not literally but metaphorically, watched, studied, manipulated. Complaint and subserviant to the "government" to "society"

    It is logical to give people drugs so that they are always happy and don't want to commit crimes, but is it right? It is logical to crush decent beneath your black steal toed boots to ensure a safe, orderly society, it makes sense, it's the only way to make sure that the "innocent citizens" are kept safe, the ever few ever dwindling "innocent citizens." It's the only way to keep people safe from themselves, the only way. List them, index them, watch them, teach them, in the end they'll learn that they should comply. It is in their interests to comply, it is the will of society.

    "The road to hell is paved with good intentions"

    I'm quite sure that when the Germans supported Hitler they weren't expecting it would end up in the genocide of Jews. But in the begining it all made sense, order, work, safety, certainty, security, and it kept making sense until they finally stood back and saw the hell they had created.

    I'm sure when Pol Pot rose to power or Lenin, that neither nation realised the realities they were brining to life.

    It's easy to give away your freedom and your identity when promised with safety and security. It's easy to give way to logic. It's easy to say "I have nothing to hide".

    I'm already on the DNA register (drunk and incapable on a public highway - I was asleep in a bush) and I'm quite sure I'll be on it forever.

    However I think we're daydreaming into a police state. Quite blissful in our ignorance and happy in their promises.

  51. Nev Silver badge

    The "Nothing to Hide" Bridage...

    Apart from the total naivety of "Nothing to hide" stance; uk.gov has shown itself time-and-time-again incapable of procuring large complex IT systems that actually work.

    Do you really want some private sector PFI scheme in charge of a database that will become a deciding factor as to whether you are sent down for a crime you may not have committed?

    Oh, and how long is it estimated that it would take to tag the entire population of the UK?

  52. M

    Hey on a mo...

    ...for those who state that they wouldn't give them the DNA data blah blah.

    Unfortunately, when the police arrest you then you WILL have to provide the DNA anyway so in this case we have no choice.

    We lose out no matter what.

    Only one answer left for us is to start REVOLT against the DNA idea and ID marklarkly!

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    B*ll*cks to this!

    Feckin' government. Feckin' insane syphilitic judges. Feck off!

    I'm not a criminal. Put more police on the streets to deter criminals rather than presuming everyone's guilty!

    As for the constant moaning that more ethnic minority males are on the database, if ethnic minority males wouldn't commit crimes, they wouldn't be on there. That's not racism, that's looking at the statistics.

  54. Adrian Lidington

    Four words for you.

    Tetragametic chimerism. Lidyia Fairchild.

  55. Mycho Silver badge

    @Fluffykins

    Excuse me while I hack the database and swap your DNA with that of Timmy Mallett...

    There you are, you'll never be able to prove you're not Timmy Mallett again!

  56. Steve Evans

    A flaw in their plans...

    We can all see the police want to solve crimes with an SQL query, the problem is DNA doesn't work for all crimes... Rapes, sure, usually lots of DNA, murder, maybe... The trouble is these are very rare crimes compared to the ones most of use are exposed to... Pick pockets, handbag snatches etc, no good for DNA. The guilty party can simply admit to being on the same crowded street as you, and that's how a few of their skin flakes must have got on your jacket.

    Plus, if they do get DNA evidence, it will just make all the sucessful criminals identical twins. They can just point at each other and say "He did it". The police, having completely lost any ability to solve crimes without their beloved database will simply implode. Assuming "innocent until proven guilty" hadn't been thrown out with the bathwater too.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's the problem???

    I have thought this for some years now.

    Why can't babies DNA be taken at birth when they have other tests done, it would save so much time and money.

    There should be no reason why our DNA shouldn't be on record, if you're not guilty of anything then you have nothing to worry about.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Worryingly stupid ....

    Do any of these people in the law industry ever think about doing some sort of risk assessment before floating these ideas? How about a simple cost/benefit analysis? This judge obviously thinks that DNA identification is infallible. However, as soon as potential identification by DNA trace becomes a problem for the average working criminal, someone is going to think of easy ways to break it - either by leaving false traces (and what easier and more infallible way of framing someone can you think of?) - or by finding simple ways of destroying or degrading DNA traces in situ

  59. Howard Miller

    For Sale!

    Have you noticed how the DVLA now happily sells its database contents to ASDA so they can nick you for parking for more than 10 minutes.

    Well, how much money could you make by selling the contents of the DNA database to whoever might be in a position to pay?

    This is "I have nothing to hide" thing is all garbage - even if they got it all right (some chance of that), you have no idea what is going to happen to that data in the future.

  60. Steve Wehrle

    Some Exceptions?

    This is very interesting, especially (as Private Eye reported 2 months ago) since neither Tony Blair or Lord Levy had their DNA sampled for the database when they were "arrested" with regard to the "cash for honours" enquiry.

    And has the honourable judge insisted on adding his DNA to the database? I think we should be told...

  61. breakfast

    New and appropriate MO

    If this was introduced how long would it take for criminals to start thinking up smart ways around it? Off the top of my head I can imagine ambling round a pub at closing time or other public area, picking up stray hairs from around the place in order to be able to leave a huge amount of confusing DNA evidence around a crime scene and have innocent people arrested or brought in for questioning. I'm sure there are a whole lot of much smarter ways it could be used by someone with a bit more cunning.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Police and judges first?

    The police have pointedly refused to add their own DNA to the database. Surprising really, given how often they are at a crime scene.

    When they do it, I'll be happy to.

    That aside, I have to note that there are some very paranoid people around here. It's quite funny. It reads like a Daily Mail editorial.

    *awaits flames*

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Dean Burrows & Peter Davies

    I'm afraid you still don't get that DNA analysis is not some magical, never-fails technique for determining identity / guilt. These people who are in favour of this system inevitably seem to gloss over the fact that the technology is still in relative infancy, that the analysis is currently - at best - superficial, that the rate of false positives is alarming, and that DNA 'in the field' is inevitably contaminated or insufficient to use for analysis / comparison.

    As usual - the less people understand something, the more faith they place in it.

    Tell me, do the police ride around on magical unicorns, brandishing dna-collecting lollypops as they ride through candyfloss and happiness in your world?

    Oh no! A robber! But what's this? The CCTV fairy is here to give us his picture, and the DNA goblin has cleverly nabbed some of his.. what is that? Never mind, I don't want to know.

    With all this information, we need only to send the Wizard of Taser to collect him for his appointment at the Court of Fairyland Kingdom, where we can determine his guilt by means of infallible lie-detector test! Huzzah!

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    thinking about it

    how many of you guys saw the news this morning and thought

    "LOL - Can't wait for this to pop up on the reg, flamefestorama!"

    O and yeah, british national databases - the country that couldn't keep track of a couple of thousand prisoners after several million quid pissed up the wall. Lets face it prisoners are pretty easy to track.

  65. Chris

    Theory vs practice

    It's all about theory versus practice. In theory it should be fool proof but, in practice we all know effective fools (or the government) are at breaking things.

    Like someone else mentioned as soon as someone can gain illegal access to the database all sorts of problems will ensue or even some judicious planting of DNA 'evidence' by some crim will finger *you* not them!

    Plus, this will only solve crime post-hoc not stop crime being committed. You'd think a death sentence would be a pretty effective deterrent, but just look at the murder rates in places like Texas. So yeah, we may have more crimes solved, but we won't have less crime.

    Oh and another thing, where are they going to put all these criminals aren't all the jails full these days anyway?

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To the Nothing to Hide brigade

    Can I have your DNA please? Can you tell me all about yourself. You've nothing to hide so you won't mind giving me the info will you?

    I won't really misuse the info either - I promise.

  67. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    peter davies

    'Isn't one life saved worth more than your principals on DNA sharing?'

    No.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Cash for Honours enquiry

    Is the DNA of the people arrested on file?

    A) Yes

    B) No

    C) Ha ha ha!

  69. This post has been deleted by its author

  70. Nick

    All your...

    All your DNA are belong to us...

  71. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @finnbar

    Flame on.

    Paranoid?

    I guess the few dissenters in Hitlers Germany were told the same thing just before the night of the long knives.

    Extreme example yes, but can you give one real life example in which we were right to trust the government and police in the last 20 years?

    I would really welcome an answer to that.

  72. JohnG Silver badge

    Illegal immigrants would be missed then...

    Anyone who is not legally in the country and has not chosen not to claim asylum would not be known to the authorities and would not appear in the database.

    What was the government's estimate of illegals in the UK? 500,000 or so? If one of them commits a crime, they would not be one of the 60 suspects in the example above.

    Given that two wanted Al Qaeda suspects were amongst 10000 erroneously issued with British passports last year, I don't hold much faith in the processes and procedures of government departments.

  73. Matt

    paranoia

    I think you'll find that it isn't about paranoia, it's about what could happen. It's about allowing our governments and institutions to have increadibly powerful tools and rights to intrude into our lives.

    It all seems well and good now, but who knows what it could lead too, there are few things in this world that are really important, but freedom and liberty are most certainly at the top of the stack.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    presumed guilt

    so, I'm already on the database having been "arrested on suspicion" and completely cleared - and yes this affected my life dramatically at the time... stress, financial burden, personal computer equipment confiscated for 8 months so had to be replaced.

    Presumably this sort of thing will become the norm when "suspects" are hauled in due to matching DNA.

    As has been said before, the ID is good, the implentation (I hope to god) should never happen as the government can't be trusted to:-

    a) design the thing in the first place

    b) implement a successful and robust infrastructure

    c) deliver it on time

    d) deliver it to the budget

    e) maintain it securely

    f) restrict access to the database to investigating officers only

    but since when has this ever stopped them in the past - just look at the CSA and NHS it disasters.

    Flight please! One way!

  75. Robert Harrison

    "nothing to hide"

    There was a quote I read in an article (cannot remember source) that I liked:

    Person 1: If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.

    Person 2 (in response): Do you have curtains in your house?

    The answer to this most obviously being yes. Homework: Work out why.

    My DNA is my own, It Is None Of Your Business. The damned UK Gov have plenty of my details already enough to determine that I am who I say I am. We have to repeat those details over and over again for each and every separate agency we deal with. I pay my taxes, my NI and my council tax which I accept are all part of contributing towards the upkeep of society and for that price I would like for my family and I to be left well alone as private citizens. That's not much to ask is it surely?

    Oh and regarding ID cards. I will readily admit that in principle they seem like a nice idea but again the damned UK Gov have shot themselves in the foot, twice. Firstly by the ridiculously escalating claims of all the problems that the ID card will solve: terrorism, benefit fraud, identity fraud, stop and search (PC Plod: Are you carrying your papers?) And secondly, because we all know how much of a botch up the implementation of ID cards is currently (how much money spent now with what to show for it?). So, no thanks. I've got a passport (with biometrics whuptedoo) and a driving licence both with photo ID, two forms of ID already.

  76. John Munyard

    Nothing to hide?

    For all those people who feel they have nothing to hide, that's fine. Just get yourselves off down the Police Station today, get your samples taken and add yourselves to the National DNA Database.

    I also have nothing to hide, but I consider the compulsory taking of my DNA for "just in case" to be a significant invasion by the state on my privacy. I am not a criminal, but at the same time I have the right not to be treated like one "just in case". My DNA, like my reading preferences, like my Internet activity, like my sexual preferences, like my Political views, like the CD's I play in my car is NONE OF THE GOVERNMENT'S BLOODY BUSINESS.

    The "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" argument is just regurgitating David Blunkett's marketing strap line - it has no intellectual arguement beneath the buzz phrase at all.

    The truth is everyone wants your DNA. They want to own it, analyse it, but also to find new uses for it, to market it and sell it to whoever they can.

    The Government's track record in this regard is clear. Will you "nothing to hide" people be so happy when Government shares your DNA with the Americans, the Insurance Industry, the medical companies, Social Services, or your employer?

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Any policeman can already take your DNA

    All they need to do is find a pretence to arrest you. Suspicion of something is all they need, no real evidence and they take you down to the station and swab your cheek. You have no choice.

    The judge is absolutely correct that the current situation is indefensible.

    I prefer the change to a defensible solution of collecting only DNA from arrested people in relation to the cause of the arrest although possibly doing a wider check against other crimes at time of charge and discarding all DNA data if the charge is dismissed or the suspect acquitted.

    Of course no British policeman has ever wrongfully arrested anyone or would ever do so and everyone they even speak to must have done something wrong to deserve it. Being middle class and not protesters we tend to see the better side of police behaviour. No one has been wrongfully charged or convicted either, that would never happen.

    Also there are so many laws now its easy to break them unknowingly, used any open Wi-Fi hot spots recently? Even if you get acquitted they will still keep your DNA.

    Taking the judges preference of sampling everyone is entirely logical but I do not view the intrusion as worthwhile for the gain in convictions. It is a better position than the current one as at least it is fair.

  78. Simon

    Are you ready to be indexed?

    It is the nature of humanity to be morally corrupt to one degree or another at some time or another, that's why crimes are committed. Unfortunately the people who would be responsible for this database will be part of humanity.

    But if they have to go ahead I propose a feasibility study which indexes a small segment of society, let's say; the judges, the JPs, the QCs, the barristers, the lawyers, the solicitors, the MPs (parliament ones) and the police. Once they're indexed, then that database is cross referenced against every crime scene where DNA was collected and if there aren’t any false negatives then... well, we'll have a runner.

    But, until that's done, keep your bleedin' Qtips off my DNA.

  79. David

    Mr Blair & Co.

    Still no word from Downing St if the former PM Mr Blair or any of his aides that were arrested with regards the cash for honours affair had their DNA & Fingerprints taken for the database...

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    O yes you have got something to hide

    It is generally accepted that about a third of girls lose their virginity under the age of sixteen. Even more will have engaged in sexual conduct to which their age precludes them giving lawful consent.

    Question for all men: "Have you ever had sexual relations with an under-age girl?" I would be interested to hear if a third or more of the male population have nothing to hide on that one.

    The judge should get out of his ivory tower. The point about ethnic minorities being disproportionately represented is a red herring. Men are disproportionately represented in jails but nobody suggests we should jail more women to even the score.

    Nobody should be compelled to give evidence against himself and the fact that a few lives might be saved if the police could foil a terrorist plot is not decisive. The financial cost of adminstering a database with over 100 million records is likely to be disproportionate to the benefits. More lives might be saved if everyone was microchipped like dogs and scanners were erected around the country so that the Government knew where everyone is at any time. (That's probably classified and I dare some someone in the Ministry for the Interior, sorry Home Office, is working on that project this very moment.)

    I do not want Britain to become a police state.

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Garbage In Garbage Out

    Something no one has mentioned is how do you prove that what is going into the database is the right data for the right person.

    Ok so Johnny - organised crime lord has to have his DNA taken in order to be put on the database. Except he has paid his doctor a rather large sum of money so that his DNA is swapped with someone else's. Now say that was you or me. Every crime our Mr Crimelord commits is attributable to you because your DNA is on the database incorrectly. So how do you prove your innocence. By all accounts the doctor will swear that he has taken the correct DNA.

    Instead maybe he doesn't want to pay off a doctor so what about sending someone in his place. How does they prove otherwise?

    This idea is flawed completely. There is no way on hell's earth I would ever want my DNA on a database. Not because I have anything to hide quite the opposite but the govt etc can't be trusted to carry it out without bias or corruption.

    [/2p]

  82. Jeremy

    This morning

    ...I turned on my TV as I was waking up and listened to this story. Even in my pre-first-cup-of-tea, 90% comatose state, the judge's arguments totally failed to stand up.

    "Too many black and Asian men are on the database, so we'll just stick everyone on it instead of looking at *why* black and Asian men are more likely to be arrested."

    Preposterous beyond belief. If this happens, I guess I'll become a criminal by refusing to give a sample. Makes me feel glad I'm emigrating.

  83. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The "nothing to hide" brigade....

    Might like to answer these questions honestly.

    1) Have you ever broken the speed limit on a public road?

    2) Have you ever been unfaithful to your wife/husband/partner?

    3) Have you ever taken a 'sickie' from work?

    4) Have you ever fare-dodged on a train or bus?

    5) Do you masturbate? If so, how often?

    6) Have you ever used a prostitute?

    7) Do you have any illegal/pirated software, dvds, music?

    8) Have you ever driven when you were pretty sure you'd be over the limit?

    I doubt there is anyone who could, honestly, answer 'no' to all of those questions and I'd guess 99.99% would answer yes to at least 3.

  84. Dave Murray

    Re: nothing to hide

    "I have to agree with this... The only people who have anything to worry about this are someone with something to hide. I have nothing to hide; it wouldn't bother me that my DNA is on a national computer."

    Until someone hacks the database and uses your DNA record to frame you for a string of violent, sexual crimes they have committed.

    Or until your life insurance premiums go up because the insurance company checked the DNA database and found out you're more likely than most to get cancer.

    Or until you are refused a job because your DNA says you're likely to be a drug addict.

    Or until your local hospital refuses to treat you because your DNA says you're likely to be a drug addict.

    Or unitl...

    Got the picture yet? Good, now you can go back to reading the Daily Stalin... err I mean Mail.

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re Too much reliance on evidence after the fact

    And of course DNA evidence will only help with certain crimes. Not white collar crimes such as fraud and embezzlement, etc. Only if there is an actual crime scene, where the criminal was present. And only if the criminal was stupid enough to leave DNA.

  86. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Drop it

    How hard is it to type

    DROP SCHEMA DNA;

    After all, 500000 entries are supposedly erroneous anyway.

  87. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Those who have nothing to hide

    Would still probably object if they are told to register with the police and specify their

    - age

    - sex

    - eye colour

    - hair colour

    - skin colour

    - ethnic origin

    - sexual orientation

    - list of genetic deseases/abnormalities

    on an official form. Yet, the same people are so relaxed about submitting their DNA samples for the same purpose (don't tell me the police cannot extract all this information from the DNA - maybe now they can't, but very soon they will be able to).

    Now remember the occupation of the Channel Islands by the Nazis and registration of all persons of Jewinsh origin. Now imagine yourselves in that situation.

    Nothing to hide??? Schmucks...

  88. Greg

    How long have I got?

    Seriously, how long have I got to get out of the country? Because I'm going. The greed, the corruption, the erosion of civil liberties, and worst of all, the apathy on the part of the general public. It sickens me. I'm off, soon as I've got the cash.

  89. Mike Richards Silver badge

    'Welcome to Britain...'

    '...Now just hawk up a loogie for immigration'

    Wow! They've actually found a way to make the foetid concrete sarcophagus of Heathrow even less appealing than it is right now.

    I just hope they provide a suitable selection of pictures for us to gob at - I'd find it hard to choose between Tony McNulty, Lord Justice Sedley or (Dr.) Gillian McKeith.

  90. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Police and judges first?

    It's not paranoid, it's called looking at possible consequences of a national DNA database, and most of the people here have got it bang on. The Mail would concentrate on the comments that talk about ethnic minorities making up large numbers on the current database. Of course, people are missing the point. You get on the database for being arrested and charged, even if the charges are dropped, or they get thrown out in court, it doesn't matter. I think if you compare the conviction rate of ethnic minorities and the arrest rate there would be quite a disparity. If the media tells you so and so many terrorists arrested this year I'd like to think the intelligent people who read The Register would also know that over half of arrested terrorists are released without charge, or have their charges dropped.

    Also the comments about not knowing who the likeliest offenders are is a moot point. As soon as they have a large database like that, they can begin classifying people's criminal tendencies based on DNA and start locking up the most likely offenders. I wouldn't ask about crime prevention too loudly.

  91. bobbles31

    Reassuring

    The only reassuring thing about this article is the sheer number of posts on this topic. At least people are agitated enough about the subject to post.

  92. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Actually, I don't know why I am worried....

    ..i will probably be dead by the the time they implement an IT system to deal with it, prob due to an error in the NHS IT system.

  93. MattW

    @ Peter Davies

    The 'nothing to hide' argument sets the very dangerous precedent that the only reason for desiring privacy (a fundamental human right) is because you have done something wrong.

    You unspeakable m*ron

  94. bobbles31

    If you have nothing to hide....

    Then why can't we see the advice from Lord Goldsmith?

    Or an inquiry into the 45 minute dossier?

    Or a public inquiry into the cash for honours?

    or a dozen other investigations into the corruptions of the British (MY) Government?

    When I trust you enough I'll give you my DNA, but I suspect that you will have to interrupt my snowball fight with the Devil to come get it.

  95. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Brilliant idea

    Start with the Judges, MP's etc etc. Then get a tabloid newspaper to get access to the database.

    Then get their DNA profiles and next time a rent boy / prosititue, drug dealer comes foward to sell his story, we have perfect proof. No more libel cases. Maybe we can fit a few up as well. I hope they flush everytime!

  96. foof

    View from abroad

    As a Canadian who has never been to the UK I'm sure my opinion won't mean much, but...

    @Peter Davies "We're not talking about a complete George Orwell society, just having a name/NI number against a string of DNA?"

    It seems as though most of the news stories I read say how almost the entire country is under video surveillance. Fingerprinting children, now DNA sampling for everyone. Can't stand on a corner and pick your nose without being videotaped. Freedom seems to be only slightly better than China. What's next? GPS microchipping?

    Not talking about a complete George Orwell society? You are already there, my friends.

  97. Name

    Title

    By Fluffykins

    "Why is the right to conclusively prove I am who I say I am (or as conclusively as possible at the moment) an erosion of civil liberty?"

    How dumb can you get. If someone can be bothered to take another sample analyse it and match it against a database it proves that (barring a number of possible errors) you are the same body that gave a sample when the database was created.

    Is that who you think you are, an entry in a DNA database?

    Identifying a body as the same as one previously identified is more accurately and much more efficiently done with a photograph (and/or iris scan and finger prints).

    DNA is *only* useful for identifying traces left by a body with the body that left them and because we all shed DNA everywhere is fraught with danger (for the innocent) that traces of our DNA shed (or planted) at some location will be used to incorrectly associate our bodies with something that happened at that location.

    DNA is easily collected and easily replicated. If DNA evidence from crime scenes was widely collected and used crims would start spraying their workplaces with DNA collected from other people. The reality is useful DNA samples are rarely obtained from crime scenes and the ones that are do not often identify the criminal.

  98. Tim

    REALLY bad idea

    This is the sort of suggestion I've come to expect from EU judges. The fact we have someone with such a poor grasp of the concept of law ruling in higher UK courts scares me a little.

    All judges must know the concept innocent until prooven guilty, does he issue seach warrants on a whim with the excuse "if he's got nothin to hide..."

    I personally think Scotland has it better than us only keeping records of the convicted criminals.

    If people are unsafe for release they should not be released, so without more prisons this suggestion would mean either serious criminals released from prison, or newly convicted criminals winding up with a nothing punishment like community service for all but the most serious crimes. And a judge should know both are bad.

    Summary: From a Law point: Bad, From a society point: Bad

    From a Sci-Fi writters point: Bad (less extreme fictional plot lines available)

    From a police point: Bad (Unless they like unemployment)

    From the point of view of a crazy misguided judge: Good

  99. Phill

    @ Peter Davies

    "We're not talking about a complete George Orwell society"

    Yes we are.

    DNA, Cameras on every corner. What's left exactly?

  100. Igor Mozolevsky

    @It *is* a deterrent!

    ... which works so well with the repeat offenders??? You know the difference between RE-active and PRO-active, right?

  101. Igor Mozolevsky

    RE: Ten quid says this judge is about to publish a book

    >It's interesting to hear just how many people would blindly accept this, but the whole debate about

    >whether it violates our rights is irrelevant because the idea (at least in its present form) is simply

    >unworkable.

    It's pretty easy - make the NID compulsory (eg. tie in NHS no to your NID card, and not let you see dentist/GP or god forbid be involved in an RTA without the NID card) and DNA one of the metrics...

  102. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Dean Burrows

    The farmer you're referring to is Tony Martin - he actually shot both burglars and he was convicted by a jury of one of those he shot and wounding the other. If the police, CPS or the jury had believed that he used reasonable force in defending his property, he wouldn't have been convicted.

    I can think of another high-profile case where a someone stabbed repeatedly a burglar (largely in the back) to death - after the initial wounds, the burglar ran into the street, chased by the man, who when he caught him, proceeded to stab him him some more - the sentence was reduced to three years on appeal and no doubt, you think he should have been knighted instead.

    Personally I view this two cases along similar lines, and don't believe that they show are 'law-abiding' citizens are having the short end of the stick.

    I fail to see by what cogent reasoning you would bring up the Martin case during this deabte.

    You claim that a DNA database will enable crimes to be solved, but there are bound to unpleasant consequences too.

    Due to the growing sophistication of car alarms and immobilising devices in America, the number of unattended cars stolen went down. Sounds good? Well, not really - as the number of carjackings soared as this was now a far more easier way to steal cars. The number of cars stolen in the US didn't come down significantly, but there was a rather noticeable increase in violent crime as a result.

    If you were a criminal and you knew your DNA was in a database, don't you think that you might think about trying to destroy the DNA evidence against you? Maybe you might think of committing worse crimes to try and conceal more minor ones.

    Give you an example to show this isn't new, Haigh the acid bath murderer committed murder to cover up fraud, a major reason he took this step was that he believed if he could destroy the bodies to destroy the evidence - there was more than one bad flaw in his plan, but he's not the only criminal to have committed brutal acts in an effort to destroy the evidence.

  103. Igor Mozolevsky

    RE: presumed guilt

    > As has been said before, the ID is good,

    no, it's utterly stupid - for it to work for any crime "prevention" every single police officer would need to carry card readers that could authenticate the card and validate it a central data bank, the populous would need to be trusted to write "CRIMINAL" or "TERRORIST" on their own cards, otherwise how would the officer know (c'mon they're not psychic!) and everyone without the card needs to be locked up (in the already overcrowded prisons) until their identity is established...

    So to sum-up the idea is good, in theory... but as many of us know, it is only in theory that theory and practice are synonymous!

  104. Igor Mozolevsky

    RE: What's the problem???

    > There should be no reason why our DNA shouldn't be on record, if you're not guilty of anything

    > then you have nothing to worry about.

    So you have already volunteered your DNA at the local police station to set an example??!

  105. Daniel

    @ Nothing to Hide Crowd

    It doesn't have to be that you have nothing to hide. My wife and I are law abiding citizens of the US. This hasn't stopped the government from harassing her by revoking her Passport, withholding her tax refund, and threatening jail time. Why have they done this? Because when we were legally separated for 9 months she had to list her maiden name on the paperwork and some dip shit county clerk entered her name under another woman's child support order for $26,000 in back child support. When she called to clear up the matter they found that her social security number didn't match up to the person they were looking for only her maiden name did. Problem solved right? No, instead of doing their job they simply replaced the guilty woman's Social with my wife's Social. So now she is totally screwed because any trace of this other woman is removed from the case file by a lazy bastard clerk. So she is guilty of nothing more then sharing a common last name with another woman and we are spending tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to reinstate her Passport, recover tax refunds she is entitled to, and stopping the police from showing up at our house with arrest warrants.

    So to the I have nothing to hide crowd you can freely give away your information and cross your fingers everything goes well, but for those of us who have experience dealing with mindless, self-serving government officials/employees we will fight this until our last breath. These people are suppose to be in place to serve and protect, not harass law abiding, hard working people.

  106. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    anyone heard of the 7? The 3?

    Back a few decades ago, the police stitched up innocent men on very iffy forensics for various IRA bombings.

    The police want successful cases, i.e. cases closed. Whether the people banged up for the crimes are the perpetrators was neither here nor there to the police.

    The police can be as corrupt as anyone else. Do you trust your DNA to their keeping?

    DNA, like fingerprints, are not an exact science. 'Best fit' can cover a lot of fifth cousins separated by many generations.

    But to me, the ancient rights of a free-born Englishman (or woman) should be defended wherever they are being eroded. The whole of English history can be seen as the development and defence of the idea that we, the ordinary folks on the street, should be able to go about our lives without hindrance, without having to answer to anyone, without surveillance, and that we can only be diverted from our lives when there is proof, or suspicion followed by proof, that we may have broken one of the legal rules we have agreed to adopt for the good of all.

    Men have struggled and suffered and died for this freedom. Yet we seem to throw it away like a candy-bar wrapper. The candy inside isn't safety. It is tyranny. Benjamin Franklin was right. Freedom means risk, and I would rather face risk and uncertainty than an east-Germany style certainty. There is no ultimate safety. But there is ultimate oppression.

  107. Igor Mozolevsky

    RE: nothing to hide bashing

    > Isn't one life saved worth more than your principals on DNA sharing?

    By the same argument, I would presume that you'd rather lock up 20 innocent people than to see a guilty man set free?! If so, I do sincerely hope on day you become one of those 20 innocent ones!

    "If saving a life means having no liberty then what is that life worth?" - myself

  108. Matt

    another thing

    another thing

    (o

    'Isn't one life saved worth more than your principals on DNA sharing?'

    No)

    Now I'm sorry to point this out to everyone the polices job isn't to prevent crime.

    The polices job is to solve and investigate crimes.

    That's it. They don't exist to stop crimes that could theoretically happen. A crime happens, the police investigate and the courts convict.

    The notion that police exist to prevent crime is a crazed misconception that has sprung up in the last few decades.

    Crime is prevented via social measures (teaching, upbringining, mental health care, parks, etc) crime is solved by police and prosecuted by couts.

  109. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Other criminal use for the database

    Think about it, a dna test can tell you whether someone's heart, for instance, is suitable for a transplant. Once you've found someone who will serve as a donor for your wife all you need is for someone to kidnap them and cut out their heart while they're still alive.

    This kind of database is too dangerous to be in the hands of anyone, thanks.

  110. James Pickett

    Maybe

    the judge just wanted to shoot the government's fox. After all, the Home Office has now had to issue a public denial, while previously they were beavering away to that very end. Most judges are brighter than they look...

  111. Tim

    all you people who are packing your bags...

    Where the hell are you going to go? Just because the UK are ahead of the big brother game, with China a close second, just ask yourself where in the world are there no CCTV camera's... unless you are willing to live the rest of your life in a third world country with even less civil rights!

  112. This post has been deleted by its author

  113. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to hide? Says who?

    I'm reassured to see an overwhelming amount of common sense coming forth on this subject. To those over confident people who are certain they have not and will never have anything to hide, how can they be so sure?

    You may at present have nothing to hide, however times change, and little is certain. Perhaps someday some activities you take for granted now may be criminalised in the not so distant future? Abortion, some thought patterns, some memes, some sexual activities, non-disclosure of medical details, visiting certain countries, reading certain books, to name a few possibilities. Far fetched perhaps, but look at the world where we have seen the laws moving into the absurd - the UK may soon criminalise some pictures of some consensual sexual activities, China has made reincarnation illegal, the US is attacking the legal right of a woman to abortion etc etc. Don't trust the government is the lesson to be learnt.

  114. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Title

    "Isn't one life saved worth more than your principals on DNA sharing?"

    The ultimate goal is clearly not to save lives. If it was, then the vast sums of money consumed by such a database would be better spent on quality healthcare and education. Lives could be saved on several greater orders of magnitude.

    The "isn't one life saved" argument is an appeal to emotion grounded in ignorance. It has no place in a sensible debate; sadly I'm sure the phrase will rear its head many more times. Stopping terror and saving children - there are another couple of likely suspects.

    Time to draw up some bullshit bingo cards methinks.

  115. This post has been deleted by its author

  116. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Time for Scottish Independence?

    The Scottish government have ruled this out: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/6979451.stm

    Time for Independence? Sounds like Westminster and Holyrood are increasingly pulling in opposite directions. How different can two cultures be and still count as a single national entity?

  117. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to hide...

    I've done nothing wrong, so I have nothing to hide *AND* the police have no reason to have my DNA.

  118. Brennan Young

    Buttle / Tuttle

    Sam Lowry: I only know you got the wrong man.

    Torturer: Information Transit got the wrong man. I got the *right* man. The wrong one was delivered to me as the right man, I accepted him on good faith as the right man. Was I wrong?

  119. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Public Bathrooms can now be privatised

    This is an opportunity for public toilet entrepreneurs "You donate [the content], we mitigate [the cost]" Special bottles can be sold to tourists coming off the planes and trains - "Take it with you." And during an emergency when all water is un-drinkable, well, do as the Indian prime ministers do. Ordinary citizens can turn green along with their lawns. We are talking a movement here - a movement by the pro-piss, the pro-duce and the pro-tect parties. And who says the sun has set on the Brit empire?

  120. adnim Silver badge

    Although

    I can be eloquent, all I have to say to this Judge is a very loud and resounding FUCKOFF. My mind is my own, as is my DNA you twat.

    What gives the state the right to have my DNA? Other than rights that the state itself has given to itself... So much for democracy. Welcome to the police state.

    Each and every day that passes I feel more like property of this government than an individual member of society. And as far as I am concerned they do not have the right to store my DNA, to stop me drinking in the street, to make me politically correct, to control my life etc. But that is what it is all about... control. And the government are rapidly loosing it as the rich get richer at the expense of the less fortunate. Do they really think a DNA database is going to solve the ills of our society? So very short sighted, a more equal distribution of wealth and some real understanding of what makes our youth disaffected would help a great deal more than trying to cope with the symptoms of a capitalist lead pigopolist, mis-governed society dominated by greedy grabbing bastards.

  121. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Punitive punishments and excessive control are counter productive

    "Haigh the acid bath murderer committed murder to cover up fraud, a major reason he took this step was that he believed if he could destroy the bodies to destroy the evidence - there was more than one bad flaw in his plan, but he's not the only criminal to have committed brutal acts in an effort to destroy the evidence."

    The way I put it is this, if there was the death penalty for speeding then every speeding stop would be a shootout in which someone dies.

    The UK is going down this route, making punitive punishments for every offense, and police officers seem puzzled that they need Tazars and guns now. Duhh!

    There's an article on BoingBoing about ASBO people with their faces plastered on buses that can't get a job and end up in jail. This is the same effect.

    Punitive punishments are counter productive and to be confident and law abiding, people have to be sure they will be treated fairly whenever they brush with the law. They have to be able to see a way to a viable secure life. Yet if every minor offense results in a lost life, then they can't be secure.

    Even I, fairly rich, white, well educated, non criminal, can't guarantee I won't end up in jail in the UK. I've been stopped several times, and have difficulty concealing my anger for being treated like a criminal. For me the best solution is to not go back to the UK, but that's not a choice for other brits.

  122. Voice of Reason

    Crime reduction plan...

    Hey, how about this for an idea...

    Since the vast majority of crimes that affect the most number of people in the uk - burglary and theft - are committed by drug addicts to fund their habit; how about providing free supplies of Heroin and Cocaine to anyone who wants it? A no strings attached all-you-can-eat(inject, smoke, snort)-for-free policy would ensure that addicts never needed to steal anything again to fund their habit. Plus, it would provide legitimate income for Afghan poppy and Colombian coca farmers. And, it would cripple the gangs and organised criminals that run the trade currently.

    It would save a fortune in the criminal justice system too.

    It wouldn't cost very much as drugs are cheap to produce, the street value just reflects the cost of illegal distribution and profiteering by dealers.

    I think it unlikely that there would be a significant increase in the number of addicts as anyone with an interest in obtaining drugs can do so illegally now anyway, this would just stop them drifting into crime as their consumption outpaced their earnings. Most addicts would be able to control their habit better given a reliable, clean, safe supply.

  123. Phill

    I'm in fear...

    A lot of people may have to start paying child support when a one-night stand becomes a "reverse lookup" to match a kid with a unsuspecting dad.

    This is the end of the world as we know it.

  124. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lighten up Britain

    "Heroin and Cocaine to anyone who wants it?...Most addicts would be able to control their habit better given a reliable, clean, safe supply."

    They do that in holland, methadone I recall in place of heroin, you only get prescribe heroin in some circumstances. It's not considered a problem, one of my work colleagues was on it after a misspent youth. Apparently the bad effect was constipation, he cleaned himself up when he got married. For all the talk, he was normal.

    Pot of course is legal in many countries, in small quantities, for personal use, no biggie, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain etc. even Switzerland turns a blind eye. Doesn't work for me, but some people like it. Husband of my language teacher use to grow some, he's a pipe fitter.

    These are people who are just people. I can imagine them as Brits on crimewatch being arrested with some pompous presenter talking about them as hardened criminals, or I can image them on dutch TV version of crimewatch, operating the camera, or fixing the lights like normal productive people.

    I know some gays too, if this was 50's Britain, some pompous presenters would be explaining how the police are saving these depraved butt bandits from themselves as they're carted off to jail. But we decided to decriminalize that and gosh darn it, if the world didn't end as a result.

    It's a pity Britain doesn't lighten up, whenever I hear an officer say 'I'm protecting him from himself', I think 'who the f*ck are you to elevate your choices about his?'.

    Then there's the choices they make. Harleem had a anti-drink drive campaign when I was there. THEY LAID ON EXTRA LATE NIGHT PUBLIC TRANSPORT and the police handed out bus timetables to be placed in the bars. Rather than setting up road blocks and random alcohol stops. Apparently a big success, bars ran special nights, buskers were allowed on some buses and a happier population went about their lives.

  125. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What worries me...

    ...about the BBC report is that 40% of ALL black males are on the database. This means that at least 40% of black males have at some point been arrested by the police. I wonder what proportion of those black men arrested were subsequently charged and, of those charged, how many convicted? Do these proportions tally with the proportions of the 9% white males arrested that were charged or convicted? Are black males in the UK really 4 times more likely to be criminals, or are they just 4 times more likely to get pulled by the police?

    When I worked in London, a black college of mine had a nice shiny sports car. I too had a nice shiny sports car. I only ever got stopped by the police on the 2 occasions they saw me speeding. My "ethnically challenged" friend used to get stopped & ID-ed at least once a month.

    Clearly some kinds people have more freedom than others.

  126. David

    Resist

    I, for one, would steadfastly resist any attempt to sample my DNA against my will. What right have these chinless wonders, who do not live in the real world, to insist that this be done? One comment mentioned "innocent until proven guilty". Too damn right!!

  127. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Ben

    "can you give one real life example in which we were right to trust the government and police in the last 20 years?"

    can you give me one example of a case where DNA identification has sent the wrong person to prison for a crime they didn't commit because I sure as hell can't find any?

  128. heystoopid

    @voiceofreason

    The problem with crime statistics is they are deliberately fed to us isolated from both the cost of white collar crime and the general preventable death statistics and medical treatment costs incurred therein!

    Take for example deaths and medical treatment costs for legal drugs like tobacco and alcohol , and the numbers killed and injured by the motor vehicle ! Further legal gambling is costing the community big time in many forms and is one of the key driving force for the majority of white collar crime which is generally the under reported crime as it is deemed a victimless crime.

    We normally see only the tip of this information , for the police need the violent crimes to justify all their actions and activities and ever increasing draconian rules to applied to the population as a whole , but spend more time chasing the motorist for bigger higher and faster returns , ignore most of the white collar crimes like embezzlement , tax and bank fraud due to the high cost of obtaining a conviction is tenuous at best . Mind you , we the people as a whole ,pay higher taxes, fees , charges and increased prices for all goods and services at every level as compensation for this police and very deliberate corporate inaction! One FBI report quite literally put the combined white collar fraudsters income an order of magnitude higher than that generated by the best organized criminal gangs in the country !

    As for illicit drug users , the police require large numbers of same , as they are the main source of information to solve the majority of the street crimes with costly science only being invoke in rare cases !

    Whilst the claimed value and production of illicit drugs like cocaine and opium are impressive , have you ever taking the opportunity to to look up the size and value of legal drugs and alcohol and the total value of sales , profits from the ten largest corporations in the field and how little they have chosen to pay in taxes ?

    Statistics and numbers , can say anything we choose ,so the ends justify the means , and the means justifies the ends !

  129. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to hide?

    Would those who have nothing to hide please post the following information for the rest of us to see:

    1) Your credit card number, expiry date, signature strip number, name and address, PIN.

    2) Your mother's maiden name.

    3) Your national Insurance number.

    4) When you're next away on holiday, and what valuables you have in your house.

    5) The names of everyone you have had sex with.

  130. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to hide irrelevant argument...

    The ANTHB (anti-nothing-to-hide-brigade) are really starting to annoy me now...

    How does a DNA database relate to personal data like credit card numbers etc. What a completely pointless comparison.

    1) Your credit card number, expiry date, signature strip number, name and address, PIN.

    A: How is this relevant to DNA sampling? Plus, the police already have access to your bank records.

    2) Your mother's maiden name.

    A: They already know that, it's on your birth certificate which they hold a copy of.

    3) Your national Insurance number.

    A: They know this, they gave it to you in the first place.

    4) When you're next away on holiday, and what valuables you have in your house.

    A: If you're flying to the USA, they know this so they can screen passenger lists. Probably do it for all flights really. If you travel by car, your movements are already tracked by ANPR systems - even if you're not speeding. Even if you're on foot / bus / train your location is betrayed by your mobile phone. As for valuables, probably can figure that out from your credit reference file / credit card / bank account details which they have access to - see Q1 above.

    5) The names of everyone you have had sex with.

    A: Even I don't remember all their names, so you probably got them there - but again, how would this information get onto a DNA database unless you were a serial rapist?

    What the NTHB are getting at, is that they don't believe that by knowing their DNA profile the police would be able to associate them with a crime becaue they are not criminals. They are not claiming that they do not have any personal data - the two things are completely separate. And, an irrelevant argument as the police have access to your personal data anyway.

    Anyone who thinks they enjoy the kind of anonymity / civil liberty that the ANTHB are bleating on about being eroded here are seriously deluding themselves.

    Oh, and yes, I do work for a Police force's IT division.

  131. Graham Marsden

    Nothing to hide irrelevant argument...?

    > Anyone who thinks they enjoy the kind of anonymity / civil liberty that the ANTHB are bleating on about being eroded here are seriously deluding themselves.

    Oh, right!

    Well since we apparently don't have such anonymity or civil liberties, we might as well just give up *any* semblence of liberty or civil rights that we have left and all meekly queue up at our local police station to be photographed and iris scanned and give over our DNA, fingerprints and inside leg measurements...

    Then when we protest outside Parliament or walk down the street and don't cross on the crossing or park in the wrong place we can easily be identified and locked up thus saving the Police so much time in investigating crime that they can arrest even *more* people for trivial stuff...

    > Oh, and yes, I do work for a Police force's IT division.

    Uhuh. So, tell me, have you *NEVER* abused your position by looking up the data of your mates or your family or your girlfriend?

    And you expect us to trust you and your colleagues with *even more* information about us???

  132. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to hide

    The post nothing to hide irrelevant argument. Poster you are amoron the comparison is exactly the same. I will believe you have nothing to hide when you answer the questions you try to ridicule. I notice you havent -what a surprise. As an IT person(Or so you claim) You should know how often users make mistakes. Have you noticed that currently there are 130 posts, 127 against and 3 for. That sir makes you a complete tosser.

  133. the Jim bloke Bronze badge

    This would be so easy to fool

    Simply collect some random persons dandruff/whatever

    Salt the crime scene with it while taking basic hygiene precautions yourself.

    Obviously this is for premeditated, planned crimes, but spur-of-the-moment impulse crimes are usually not so difficult to solve anyway.

    This adds another layer of complexity to getting away with murder, but nothing insurmountable. All we are doing is selecting for smarter criminals.

    Social rights activists could even make this leap of "logic"

    This will further discriminate against the disadvantaged and less well educated, making it harder for them to be succesful criminals, closing down another career path.

  134. the Jim bloke Bronze badge

    Does this mean it will be illegal NOT to spit at the police ?

    To mangle and paraphrase the NRA (American gun nut lobby group) slogan

    If its required by law to be in the DNA database, then only criminals wont be in it.

  135. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm starting up a new planet...

    "Britland"

    No judges

    No politicians

    No civil libertarians

    No wet mummys boys

    Just need some starting capital, a fast ship and some directions...

  136. Mr Lodestone

    Nothing to hide/CCTV fails daily/Spend cash elsewhere

    One of my daughters has her DNA filed with the police (thanks to a one-off petty offence). Now because of that, if my mum (bless her, she's 74 - it's unlikely) were to commit a crime then it could be traced back to her through our bloodline. Now I would cheerfuly fit up Jesus, the Dalai Lama and Ban Ki-Moon to get my mother off the hook, but that's just me. Even if you have nothing to hide (not even an exaggerated insurance claim, or holding just a bit back from the Taxman this year) it is always possible that your present or future loved ones might. 'Nothing to hide' is not the same as 'this doesn't affect me' - that latter one can change at any time.

    Also my other daughter was robbed a year ago, and despite the fact that the assailants followed her for a mile - past three CCTV cameras - the police did nothing. I learned from an insider that one of the cams was broken, another a fake and the third only intermittently monitored. If CCTV doesn't work (not even to catch a criminal AFTER the act) what hope do we have for a complete DNA database? or even RFID chips?

    Lastly, if we are going to throw money around, I'd suggest we x-ray every container entering this country. Not for VAT-free ciggies or immigrants, but for GUNS. UK companies are forbidden from selling firearms in the country so they must be coming in from outside. And you know what a gun looks like on an x-ray? A gun. Not that hard to spot. Spend the money elsewhere and maybe you can prevent crimes instead of just saying "we caught the bloke who shot your son/father/brother, etc. with magic DNA"

  137. Fenwar

    the only way it could "work"

    Would be to insist that the database could only be used to match DNA to a *named* suspect. So it would be illegal to simply pop all the DNA found at the scene into the computer and find out who was there, the police would have to provide the name of a suspect - or at least a narrowed down list of suspects - first and then the database could say which were likely matches.

    Of course the chances of it actually being implemented this way would be slim to none. It would have to be managed by an independent 3rd party which tends to mean they'd be either (a) toothless or (b) spineless.

    DNA profiles should be removed from the current database if the person is not convicted of any crime. This doesn't make the database any less useful - if anything it makes the data in it *more* useful when trying to catch serial criminals.

    Again. Slim to none.

  138. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    your only worried about

    because you know they will screw it up you guys must have

    a ton of extra money to use on worthless government programs

    that never finish and are pretty much a violation of every civilised

    concept of freedom and privacy the people that like these sorts of things need to be extinguished put out of their misery do it now and

    save all your money and your lives

  139. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Mr Lodestone

    "One of my daughters has her DNA filed with the police (thanks to a one-off petty offence). Now because of that, if my mum (bless her, she's 74 - it's unlikely) were to commit a crime then it could be traced back to her through our bloodline. "

    What exactly is your problem with that? If your mother did it, she'd deserve to be caught, convicted and punished.

    There are already many examples of rapists who've been caught because the police were able to identify them via a close relative's DNA. I don't have a problem with that. Do you?

  140. Mr Lodestone

    I would though, if...

    However, if the UK government were to blindly take both the current genetic wrong-way turns simultaneously - and make me into some sort of wolf/cow/firebug/human chimera - then I would happily let them take my DNA for sampling...shortly before I tore out the throat of the scientists doing so in a vulpo-bovine rage, regurgitated and re-digested same throats a few times, then dropped a huge flammable wolf-cowpat in the DNA centre and ignited it with the friction from my antennae.

    Seriously though - fire usually destroys all evidence apart from the fact that someone started a fire. If there is a national DNA database with everyone on file then the career criminals, recidivists and smarter crooks would just take to a spot of arson (like the after-dinner mint after a meal) at the end of any other crime committed. We'd all be on file, yes, but Blighty would burn. Repeatedly and permanently - and we'd still have the same crimes, just with twist of arson to boot.

  141. Trevor Oakley

    Who checks the probity of the Data?

    Billions of records, millions of queries; what happens when someone makes a programming error, a DNA sampling mistake, or misreads a computer screen?

    Let me share what happened to me thanks to a "computer error."

    I was driving at 3am to my business to do some computer work. The road was clear and the night was crisp. I was thinking about my business and dwelling on some issues in a private moment.

    Then I saw a blue light flashing in my rear view mirror. I was pulled over and a young man ordered me from my car saying "get out the car." He then asked me a series of questions - "Where are you going? Who insured this car?" He then checked all the types and looked over the car.

    After ten minutes of questions, he ordered me into his car and starting writing on some forms. He still has not stated any reason for stopping me. He then said my car would be impounded, and I would be charged for having no car insurance. I retorted I had insurance and he laughed loudly. He then continued to laugh as I protested.

    He then said the computer stated I had no insurance and it was never wrong. He said the data was all checke. I protested more, and finally he agreed to visit my house where I had my insurance papers.

    He confiscated my car keys and drove to my house with me in his car. I got the insurance papers and showed them to him.

    He then said: "Looks like a computer mistake." He confirmed that with his control on a police radio. He then drove me back to my car saying "I'm off to stop someone else now." As we drove he talked about new police powers saying he can stop and detain anyone without giving a reason. He also said CCTV would automatically check all cars soon. He further explained that the mistake was a data entry error on the registration number of car.

    After that a bank mistake on a computer file stopped me getting a mortgage.

    Clearly, the computer systems cannot handle what they already have stored. Read the computer press and contracts with EDS to read about the wholesale errors being made in government software contracts.

    Until the systems improve, any national database system for DNA is absurd and would lead to countless wrong convictions. One simple ploy would be simply to take someone's hair sample (eg from a hairdressers - you need just one hair) and just plant it at a scene as revenge.

    The whole idea assumes the data is right and used correctly.

  142. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ethnic minorities on file

    I wonder how the 'ethinc minorities are disproportionately represented' argument plays out if you look at it a bit more closely? Minorities represent a fairly small percentage of the overall population, but are a much larger proportion of the population of major cities, where a high percentage of crime takes place. While the UK-wide percentage of white males on the database is only 9pc, I'm pretty sure that would be far, far higher in high crime areas of inner cities, and a good deal closer to the ethnic minority percentage in those areas. I'd also like to know the percentage of minorities living in rural areas who are on file.

    That aside, there are a virtually limitless number of arguments as to why this is a truly dreadful idea, and few sensible (and I don't mean the "if you've nothing to hide" number) ones in favour. Criminalising the entire population to increase the crime clear up rate by 1 percent or whatever just doesn't cut it, particularly as most of the crime in the UK is committed by a small number of repeat offenders.

  143. Ascylto

    An example

    This happened to me ...

    Some forty years ago I worked as a Housemaster in an Approved School for young offenders. Some thirty years later the police did what they call a 'dip sample' and wrote to those young offenders (now men in their forties) asking whether they had been abused. Among many other staff I was accused of offences I did not commit and was eventually taken to Crown Court (after a 2 years wait) where the judge threw the case out before a jury was sworn and after the prosecuting barrister said there was no evidence.

    My point is ...

    Had my employer not been understanding I would have been unemployed.

    The Crown Prosecution Service takes cases to court which have no merit other than they think they may get a conviction.

    The case cost the taxpayer at least £35,000.

    My DNA is on the system forever despite my innocence.

    I was in the position of having to prove my innocence as guilt was assumed.

    The police were lazy and incompetent in that they did not investigate the allegations, relying instead on 'weight' of allegations.

    A crack-cocaine addict just released from gaol and a man undergoing psychiatric care were able to abuse the system for monetary gain by accusing me.

    I have little or no faith in the system of justice or the police.

    My personal health has never recovered.

    So, to those who would say they have nothing to hide and, therefore, nothing to fear I would just say this ... you have a great deal to fear because the system has no interest in you as an individual and you will be used when necessary to gain conviction or statistic.

    The judge is right to air his concerns but his inability to judge the consequences of the actions he proposes are very worrying.

    Finally, (and the police can't see this) the imposition of yet another aspect of the Police State will further alienate the police from the public they are meant to 'serve'. They are creating enemies enough without yet another erosion of liberties this once great country fought to achieve.

  144. Mr Lodestone

    @Finbarr

    The point I was making is that circumstances (and people) out of our control will blur that well-defined line so many posters have drawn around themselves with the 'nothing to hide' pen. How many people will (albeit wrongly) 'fess up to driving a relative or friend's car because the person that they care about has too many points on their licence. How many people have backed up a friend or family member who is carrying on an affair, continuing a lie to cover for that person, sometimes for years.

    These are minor infractions (of the heart, marriage vows and road regulations) but to suggest that one turn in one's own mother (and believe me, if she were to be discovered clutching a bloodied dagger above the fresh corpse, I'd still proclaim her innocence) is a tactic worthy of Stalinist Russia. Yes, to reiterate, I'd frame Buddha, Mother Theresa and every orphan worldwide to enable my mum - the one who carried me for nine months and then put up with me for thirty-eight more years - to wriggle out of even a justified incarceration. Wouldn't you? It's your mum, for God's sake! (I can do ad-hominem variants too)

    But no, I would not revel in violent or sexual offenders escaping justice in the vacuum created by a lack of any system, nor do I lament the apprehension and punishment of those who have been caught through familial DNA. That would just be churlish.

    Are there any Icelanders here who could shed light on just how it works when everyone is on a DNA register. I understand they all complied en masse to a database a few years back for genetic tracing of ancestors. Is crime any lower in Iceland than it was before their database went live? That would be the acid test - a comment from an Icelander. Are you perchance Icelandic? They love their mums.

  145. Mr Lodestone

    Look at the time

    Speaking of mothers, mine is due back from Blackpool shortly, so (providing she hasn't bumped anyone off while there) I think I'll go see if she had a good time. Defending her has made me all misty-eyed, so if she's not back yet I think I'll pretend to be asleep and look surprised when she wakes me up with presents.

    She also lived through the blitz and identity cards and suchlike (back when they were actually warranted - you know, during a *real* war, not a fake one) so I'll get her opinions on this. She's a well-informed clever lady who has seen a lot more of life than I have, so as long as she's not trying to force the bin lid down on my father's lifeless feet as I walk in, then I imagine I'll come away from that discussion better informed myself.

  146. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Nothing to hide in my DNA profile

    A DNA profile is is just an ID number, it carries less personal information than the police already have access to. The only difference between a DNA profile and an NI number is that criminals rarely leave their NI number at a crime scene. Your full DNA sequence might be more interesting, but that wouldn't be in the database.

    @Dave

    I don't give out personal data - bank details etc - to people who aren't authorised to see it, I'm not stupid. However, you can have a sample of my DNA anytime you like though - it won't let you access my bank account, home address or anything else for that matter. Yes, you could plant it at a crime scene, but, as I said, given the amount of routine surveillance we are all subject to already, it would be easy for me to prove I wasn't there. You could even give it to my life insurance company if you like, they already know my family medical background since I had to tell them on my application form. If I keeled over from a heart attack caused by an inherited condition and I'd not told them my dad died of one, they wouldn't pay out anyway.

    See that, I managed to reply without resorting to personal insults. You should try it :o)

    @Graham Marsden

    Firstly, don't judge everyone by your own standards - I've never tried to look up data that I'm not authorised to see.

    Secondly, I know the application and database security well enough to understand that I wouldn't be able to access such information, even if I wanted to. Even if I was able to log into the database directly with administrator privileges, at least 3 people would be notified I had done so and would be asking what authority I had been given.

  147. Simon.W

    Mr "The ANTHB (anti-nothing-to-hide-brigade) are really starting to annoy me now..."

    Why did you post anonymously? I'll say one thing - least you had the choice.

    And somehow you believe that your DNA in the National DNA database won't be associated with other identity information? Fool and you say work in IT - probably the a government department going by your comments.

    And to all those "I have Nothing to Hide" posters who posted anonymously - Eh? Subconsciously you're already using the rights that the ANTHB are arguing for.

    Are you keeping your identity secret because you don't know anyone from Adam on this forum - damned right you are; I like your hypocrisy

  148. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Next Step

    I can just see it now, if something like this was EVER to come into enforcement....Especially the bit about all visitors to the country:

    Heathrow Airport official "We hope you enjoy your stay in the United Kingdom.....Oh, and before we go, we just have to swab the inside of your cheek to extract your DNA to put on our database"

    That would go down well, wouldn't it?

    Whats next? We all going to get chipped, so they can track us by satellite?

  149. P. J. Isserlis

    RE and another thing by matt

    As a trainee policeman, one learns rather a lot of legal defintions. If I remember correctly, no. 1 starts aong these lines:

    "A Constable is a citizen, locally appointed, having authority under the Crown, for the protection of life and property, the maintenance of order, the prevention and detection of crime and the prosecution of offenders against the peace, the peace being the Queen's peace ....". I believe "the peace" is defined in one of the older laws of England extant, back to the 14th century. The ordering in the defintion is significant i.e. protection of life and property is first.

    As for "nothing to hide": tell that to Nazi German citizens, Soviet citizens, Argentinians, other S. Americans, some USA citzens by all accounts, some British, especially Irish origins, Zimbabweans and so many others today. The recent behaviour, ambitions and achievements of UK government, all for your safety and well-being (cameras, heightened police/customs powers, delegated extradition powers, asbos ..., social services powers etc. ) are rather less reassuring than I should like. Thank heavens for two passports and living abroad.

    Used to be that British law, basically, said all is legal unless there is a specific law against it, in contrast to countries with written constitutions defining what one is allowed to do.

  150. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    pity the fools with nothing to hide

    You may have nothing to hide, that you know about.

    However a fact that has already been said countless times, you have everything to fear about a possible repressive government or just a callous institution who have no interest in you as a person, your rights or the truth but have a lot of interest in stats which make them look good.

    If one day some person decides that a certain trait in DNA mean someone is predisposed to expose themselves to old ladies and you happen to have that so called trait, you are going to get a lot of visits from the police who have already judged you (because the DNA says so) for questioning. Your neighbours and friends will notice. Are you going to explain to them and face more uniformed judgements or keep it quite and try to explain away the number of police inquiries you have? You now have something to hide.

    Then ten years down the line its discovered that mistakes where made and no trait ever existed, the whole theory was rubbish. How would you feel about those 10 years of accusations and all the grief you got from them?

    You may say, "that'll never happen.", Well I have news for you, it already has, countless parents have had their children taken from them based on bad research and been accused of things they never have done. They had nothing to hide too.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/07/08/nadopt108.xml

    You may say the police wouldn't use the data like that. Well the uses of data has change on loads of things. Like using car number plates to make you pay taxes on entering a city, that was not the primary purpose. Also the police are using the DNA database in the current context, to detect crime, they just happen to be using a different method than before, they no longer need DNA at a crime where there is none, just find out who has the trait in the area and let them prove their own innocents.

    You may welcome that kind of society and if you agree with DNA database and profiles, you deserve it, but many others and I will never accept it.

    There is a serious lake of control and care over the DNA database and it points to a very disturbing conclusion that can be seen from at lot of recent examples and that is that the UKGov don't care about you as a person and the possible harm it does in implementing its controls over all aspects of your life.

    Meanwhile the police are acting as political thugs in their zeal in what appears to be a claim that everyone is a criminal, they just haven't been caught yet.

  151. Elisa

    What about equality under the law?

    It looks like there are a lot of raw British nerves these days regarding efforts to keep the citizens "safe". Most of the comments seem to be reacting to the heavy handed, overreaching actions of the government. In the US we have our own overreaching, heavy-handed government and I agree that it needs to be challenged.

    But I also think the judge's remarks are consistent with an EQUAL and JUST society. If the law-enforcement tool of a DNA DB is going to used then then the criterion for how it is populated should be consistent with an equal society. Right now it's populated with both convicted persons and those persons who have had the unhappy circumstance of attracting police attention but have not committed a crime. By virtue of being in the DB, the unconvicted people are lumped into a single group (possible future criminals) and are treated differently than the unconvicted people who managed to escape police attention.

    If the government is not willing to give up any data, the only way to equalize the situation is to collect ALL data, thereby diluting the stigma of being in the DB. When everybody is a potential suspect, nobody stands out. With a few well-publicized wrongful arrests the DB won't be such a panacea.

    Personally, I find the concept of the DNA DB disturbing for a number of reasons, many of which have already been discussed here. But the current method for populating it has a capricious aspect to it that is also disturbing. The threshold for attracting police attention is getting lower with every "threat" which means the DB holds more non-criminals every day.

    I think the judge is right to present this argument to the public. It's well past time data collection critera are publicized and questioned. I hope every one of you will write a letter to your elected representatives, whatever your opinion.

  152. Graham Marsden

    @Mr Nothing to Hide

    I'm glad you are such an example of moral probity that you've never looked up data that you're not entitled to see.

    Can you say the same for *all* of your colleagues?

    > I know the application and database security well enough to understand that I wouldn't be able to access such information, even if I wanted to.

    And I know someone who had a temporary job with the Inland Revenue. Within a day he'd shoulder-surfed his boss' password and could log in with full privileges and could have looked at anyone's details or even deleted their tax records.

    I know someone else who worked for the NHS whose supervisor was in the habit of leaving his computer unattended whilst still logged in.

    It is very easy to find ways to access information illicitly.

    If you know enough about computers you'd know this too.

    Oh, BTW, if you have Nothing to Hide, why are you posting anonymously?

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