back to article Police drag feet following DNA law change

The Met has agreed to destroy DNA and fingerprints taken from Tory Immigration spokesman Damian Green last December - and they will delete other police records too. This follows a four-month battle, much foot-dragging, and a statement by ACPO that sounds suspiciously like yet more "off the cuff" law-making by the Police. The …

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  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Nothing to fear ?

    It would seem that those who have nothing to hide will be subject to a cavity search anyways.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Approximately 9 months

    So it'll be the Tories what does it then.

  3. Number6
    Black Helicopters

    Licence Charges

    Perhaps the approach is to quote the ECHR ruling, point out to the police that they no longer have the right to store your DNA data and so you'll licence it to them for £50/week until they remove it from their database. Give them a couple of weeks to remove it and then start sending them bills.

  4. Graham Marsden

    We need a....

    ... Pope is a Catholic, Bears shit in woods icon...

  5. dunncha
    Big Brother

    Police State - Enforcers of Law of Makers of Law

    I'm not sure.

    Anon obviously

  6. alan 39
    Joke

    Re Nothing to fear ?

    It would seem that those who have nothing to hide will be subject to a cavity search anyways.

    If you have nothing to hide then why do you have cavities to hide stuff in?? Come along with me sunny jim!

  7. David Hicks
    Big Brother

    @Mycho

    I thought the 9 months was from the date of the ruling - so pretty soon.

    I'd be very surprised to hear if anything much comes out of the changes in the law though. The civil service, police and politicians seem to be dead set on keeping as much information on all of us as they can get their greasy paws on.

  8. Karim Bourouba
    FAIL

    The police, making up the rules as they go along?

    I refuse to beleive it!

    They are far to busy to do any of that - or any actual police work as they are tied up with all the paper work that goes into 'modern' policing these days.

    Isnt that the line they normally trot out when people point out their myriad failiures?

    I dont think we are sliding into a police state at all. instead, much like the Royal Mail, the police in the UK also need to be forced into modernising.

  9. Catkins
    Linux

    Exceptional Case my a***

    How exactly does Green count as an "exceptional case"?

    There was 'insufficient evidence' to charge him, so I completely accept that he is not guilty of the crime he was suspected of.

    However, innocent people are still on the database even when the correct person has been apprehended and convicted for the crime they were initally suspected of. Innocent people are on there even when it's been proved no crime has taken place, or they've been completely exonerated.

    The only "exceptional" thing about him is that he's part of a 646-strong elite who make the laws they expect other people to be subject to.

  10. Paul Shirley

    faked DNA

    It's only a few days since faking DNA evidence was demonstrated. While the standard 'couldn't qualify as a wheelclamper' copper will struggle to pull this off its a timely reminder of why we shouldn't let them have our profiles *before* 'finding' the evidence.

    They should have no access to profiles at all, just the comparison result, far too easy to copy the profile completely voiding any efforts to delete them. The police should not be trusted with temptation and if they were honest they'd agree.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Exceptional Case?

    Don't they mean, "politically sensitive case" and since the police now work for the government's interests rather than the crown's it's a right load of cack!

  12. Anonymous John
    FAIL

    DNA free title

    Apart from the legality, what's the point of storing DNA and fingerprints when the crime or alleged crime doesn't involve a physical crime scene?

    It won't help catch anyone committing his second Internet fraud, will it?

  13. Fractured Cell

    @Graham Marsden

    But does the Pope shit in the Woods?

  14. BD 1
    Unhappy

    ACPO, who are they?

    So who the heck is ACPO anyway to be making recommendations? It is not a statuary body, it is in fact a private company conforming to the requirements of company law. How is that that some sort of unofficial "dining club" can presume to influence how the police operate?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    And they wonder...

    ...why we (and the courts) don't trust them with on the spot fines and points for careless driving?

  16. Martin 6 Silver badge

    @Exceptional Case my a***

    The exceptional thing about him is that in 9 months he is going to be their boss.

    Not that anything is going to change, remember Jack Straw's decisive action on dealing with MI5 having spied on most Labour MPs as students.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why did they even take his DNA?

    His identity was not in question and the crime wasn't one for which DNA evidence was called for. So why did they take his DNA in the first place?

    Fishing?

  18. Armus Squelprom
    Big Brother

    At the next election....

    I shall hold my nose and vote for the Tories. I am absolutely ashamed of that, but it's the least bad option available for a civil libertarian.

  19. TeeCee Gold badge
    Joke

    @Fractured Cell

    I'm sure we could find out. Doesn't Pope shit have little bells and pepper in it?

  20. Catkins
    Linux

    Liberal = conservative who's been arrested

    So, politicians make the law. They get their police to enforce those laws. When they fall foul of the law, their helpful police decide that their particular case is "exceptional" so they are not subject to the law they passed.

    Damain Green should be kept on the database until the other 850,000 innocent people ahead of him are wiped off.

    I wonder whether his arrest would come up on an enhanced CRB check?

  21. Someone

    Re: Exceptional Case my a***

    I can understand why Green has fully exploited his ‘exceptional’ position to get his DNA sample and profile destroyed. Your DNA is some of your most personal information, and, if you want off the database, you want off immediately. I agree, politically, it stinks. The police already view the population’s DNA has their plaything. Green’s DNA could have also been a political football, in the run up to the next general election. Provided the Tories get in, Green could then have been just one amongst those 850,000. Or, once in power, would the Tories take nearly as hardline a position against the ECtHR ruling as New Labour?

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Why did they take his DNA

    Because they can run it against crime-samples, for family connections ... (yes thay have done this already) ... imagine that ... you get arrested, and then plod tells you that a brother/sister/cousin (you may have never known existed) is wanted for a serious crime.

    I am sure they are already thinking of rewriting the law to allow family members to be charged as accessories, for just having related DNA

  23. David Pollard

    Deletion or non-inclusion?

    Destruction of samples is straightforward enough, but what does "removal of details" from the NDNAD actually mean? Does it mean that all records pertaining to analysis of a sample are deleted or merely that they aren't immediately accessible from working copies of the NDNAD?

    When I enquired about the status of records of my DNA profile a few years ago, and others which were similarly 'volunteered' for the purpose of elimination in a murder enquiry, the Home Office informed me that the data had been made inaccessible by the assignment of a special type of access key. I understood this to mean that were a match to be found to such profiles then the associated personal details would not be immediately accessible. This is obviously not the same as 'removal' of the record or deletion of the profile.

    There is no way to maintain completely the integrity of the dataset if amendments and deletions of primary data are allowed. (That's why in commerce, for example, goods return notes and credit notes are used - so that even when errors occur the original data is preserved as accurately as possible.) So if the database it to be reliable, original copies of every profile entered have to be kept, even if only in an archived backup copy.

    In some investigations, such as where all men in a whole village are profiled, it is possible to keep this data separate from the NDNAD and to destroy it entire after investigation. But the majority of profiles from samples taken on arrest of innocent persons and those volunteered are mixed in with the rest. These details have to be archived, at the very least, if the overall integrity of the database is to be assured and open to audit for quality control.

    It seems implausible that all details of a record will be removed from the system. It will be interesting to see if an explanation emerges as to how deep the 'removal' of data actually goes. Either removal isn't total, and sufficient details are kept to maintain the integrity of the database when records are 'removed', or the integrity of the database is compromised.

    Soon after the NDNAD was set up, an amending Act was passed which allowed records of innocent persons to be kept "for statistical purposes". This seems to have been deliberate obfuscation of the issue. Few MPs would have understood that it allowed for all records to be kept, contrary to the intended framing of the original Act which established the NDNAD and according to which 'innocent' records were to have been discarded.

    The problem of deletion of 'innocent' records has been fudged from the outset. It's not clear that it will be properly resolved even now that an MP is on the receiving end of this imperfect system.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    @David Pollard : let's face it

    No-one in their right mind would volunteer their DNA, for "elimination purposes", lest their profile actually be kept on the database.

    I certainly wouldn't.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's not the technology it's the lack of trust...

    The problem here isn't with DNA any longer, or any other form of forensic evidence. It's that any and all UK citizens with more than two brain cells operating must by now realise that power is the basis of current policing strategies, not protection. The police simply cannot be trusted. Given we can't trust out politicians either, other than when their own necks are on the block, it's hard to see what we can do about it.

  26. Andrew Taylor 1
    Coat

    Of course

    if 850,000 people decide to sue the Home Office and ACPO in a Class Action...........

    I'll get me coat

  27. Stewart Haywood
    Flame

    Not a victory

    Mr Green is reported as saying: "I am delighted the Metropolitan police has recognised that keeping the DNA records of someone who should not have been arrested in the first place is wrong. This is a small but significant victory for freedom.

    How far have things sunk that this is regarded by anyone as a victory? To be able to go about life without the police searching ones office without a warrant, without being arrested for a crime that was not committed, without having ones home invaded by the police who then remove personal records, without having fingerprints and DNA samples taken are minimum requirements in a free society. The right to walk about without being subjected to a search or being required to identify onesself when no crime has been committed, the right to walk home without being killed by the police are basic rights in a free society.

    So, the police said that they are sorry, so they should be but where are the rolling heads?

    The ACPO is really interesting. Who is it within the ACPO that issues advice to the police chiefs? If they need advice on how to run a police operation, have we actually managed to employ the correct people, or should we employ the people in the ACPO doing the advising? Could it be that the police chiefs are, in fact, advising themselves and then hiding behind the ACPO smokescreen, "I was not my fault, I was only obeying my own orders guv' "

  28. ZenCoder

    there is a simple solution but its a tough one

    If the police can obtain/retain evidence in an unlawful fashion and then use it to convict someone then you are never going to get them to stop doing it.

    The only method that works is making any unlawful evidence and all the fruits of that unlawful evidence inadmissible as evidence. The police then have to carefully follow the rules.

    I'd rather a few criminals get set free on a "technicality" than live in a police state where I no privacy or protection against unreasonable search and seizure.

  29. Graham Marsden

    @Fractured Cell

    Find me a Catholic Bear and I'll give you an answer...!

    PS @David Pollard

    Regarding Volunteered DNA, the recently ended Home Office consultation proposed that volunteered DNA would not be kept.

    Of course that's only a consultation, so does anyone want to take a bet that when the law is brought in, this will be amended because "well, it would be a good idea to keep it, wouldn't it?"

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Megaphone

    contract

    Fundamental to all this is the concept of a civil contract between the authorities and the individual. This is what allows people to volunteer their DNA, to solve an often horrific crime, and at no cost to themselves.

    Now take way the "at no cost to themselves" part.

    the thing is, we don't know how far DNA or any other evidence will go, - if it were reserved for serious crime alone then OK, but where is the line drawn?

    if say driving whilst uninsured - some otherwise reasonable and productive members of society need to do this - i don't

    what about those involved in illicit drugs - a fact of life as far as i'm concerned, the law is only reasonable in as far as it constrained by lack of excessive resource

    then there is legal but unpopular civil disobedience, attending political rallies etc

    finally, for example, littering, speeding, bad parking etc.

    these are all undesirable as far as the law is concerned, but are held in check only by resource constraints, works OK for me, but for how long?

    Do we want a contract with our servants (i.e. masters) that punishes even minor indiscretions this vigorously, or do we need now to formalise the tolerance previously afforded by limited police resources?

    Should we now insist that DNA evidence can only be used in defined serious crimes, not admissible for minor crimes at all - i.e. those not involving serious, deliberate and actual harm to other persons?

  31. Eugene Goodrich
    Paris Hilton

    Defeating knife arches

    It seems to me that the trick to coping with knife arches is for everyone to start getting absolutely innocuous bits of steel - I'm thinking a couple short bolts or a properly-constructed Texas belt buckle - and gladly walk through them.

    Paris, because she's an innocuous bit.

  32. RW
    Boffin

    An SF premonition

    The great American science fiction writer, Jack Vance, in many of his novels set in the fictional "Gaean Reach" (not always under exactly that name), hypothesized a private police corporation, the IPCC, that arose because of legal restrictions on police forces.

    The parallels with the existence of the ACPO are uncanny, though the ACPO represents the IPCC only in its earlilest embryonic form.

    Somewhere in one of his novels, Vance puts into the mouth of a character a diatribe about cops in general that calls for them always to be under the thumb of a suspicious and uncooperative magistrate, so as to restrain their natural tendencies toward implementing a police state. Regrettably I have been unable to pinpoint the exact passage but it's worth looking for as a very clear exposition of some basic facts that politicians seem oblivious to.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Unhappy

    Britain

    You used to be so butch!

    We used to look up to you.

    You were famous for:

    - Inventors

    - Explorers

    - Your naval power

    - Being colonial masters

    - Your brave military victories

    Now you just roll over and let your ruling-class tickle your bellies!!

  34. Perpetual Cyclist
    Flame

    If history serves me right,

    There is an unpleasant term which refers to a polity where private commercial interests like ACPO become part of the legal system of a nation. It was popular in Germany in the 1930s.

  35. David Pollard

    @AC 20th August 2009 16:27 GMT

    "No-one in their right mind would volunteer their DNA, for "elimination purposes" ... I certainly wouldn't."

    My solicitor was at pains to mention a possible problem with not volunteering. Another solicitor independently advising a friend from whom a sample had also been requested made the same point. It might very well chance to happen that one would find oneself in close vicinity to a pub brawl, or some similar situation, in which the law provided that a sample could be taken without consent.

    As others have rightly pointed out, practices such as this together with doublespeak from increasingly authoritarian public servants erode the trust and co-operation that is vital if the criminal justice system is to be equitable and effective.

  36. Catkins
    Linux

    @David Pollard 09:58

    This poor woman gave an elimination sample and becuase the police mixed up the labelling ended up being charged with the crime

    http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?Signing_a_wedding_card_landed_me_in_court&in_article_id=704461&in_page_id=34

    If her solicitor hadn't insisted on independent forensics, she would have gone to jail as I doubt she would have had any chance of persuading a jury the DNA was wrong. Forget the story this week about the possibility of faking DNA, it's the cavalier attitude towards the handling of samples you need to be worried about.

    I suspect she'll have great difficulty in getting off the database as an "exceptional" case as she's a teenage black admin worker, not a high-profile MP.

  37. Dave Bell
    FAIL

    The Database is a prize.

    If they can't protect the database against hackers, we're in trouble.

    The tech to analyse a sample is getting incredibly cheap and quick. Access to the database is going to have to be as quick. Otherwise a few hours of detention awaiting a result becomes a few days.

    And it can't be just a local check. Somebody can come across the country from Manchester to Grimsby and commit a crime. That's why we need a National database.

    So, come the election, you help out at your MPs campaign office, and get a glass he drank from, and end up with his DNA fingerprint. Then you hack into the database and do a bit of substitution. Perhaps the hardest part is going to be providing a query, to trigger the awkwardnesses of an investigation into some dreadful and long-past crime.

    Do you recall where you were on the night of the 17th October, 1993? How do you prove it?

  38. elderlybloke
    Thumb Up

    Meanwhile in New Zealand

    A year or two ago a man was charged with a crime because the Police had found his DNA at the crime scene .

    However he lived in the North Island and the crime was in the South Island.

    It would have have taken a day and a night as a minimum for him to have go down , commited the crime and back home.

    His family, neighbors, workmates and employer all stated that he had not been away from home/work at that time.

    How his DNA got onto/into the evidence is unknown , but if the crime had been in the same town he would have been convicted.

    Obviously he had a criminal record , but if the Police had the DNA of all of us, then we could all be in the same position..

    Having said that , the Coppers down here seem a lot more respectful of our rights than your lot.

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