Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Issue of DNA records of the innocent reaches European Court

Did you wonder why Det Supt Stuart Cundy, who led the murder hunt which led to Mark Dixie's conviction, started going on about a compulsory national DNA database the other day? What his agenda might have been?

Unlike Scotland, where they take their civil liberties a wee bit more seriously, In England and Wales if the police arrest you, even if you have done nothing wrong, like the guy with the MP3 player, they will take your DNA and you will go into New Labour’s National DNA database, never to be removed.

This is unlike the tried and tested system with fingerprints where they only keep them if a person is convicted and people don’t mind giving them for elimination purposes because they know they will be destroyed afterwards.

Now the police’s practices with the DNA database is being challenged in the European Court of human rights as an infringement of an individuals right to privacy and anti-discrimination.

This database is scarily already the largest of it’s kind in the whole world.

If they win then the police will have to remove the DNA records from the system of those who have not been convicted and the system will have to work more like the fingerprint system or the Scottish system.

It is quite probable that a compulsory universal DNA database (that the police appear to be covertly working their way towards already) would indeed probably result in a few extra detections, or earlier detections of crimes.

Then again, so would electronically tagging every citizen, at their own expense, with a mini GPS system, camera and Microphone that relayed the info it recorded to a central database would too.

The question is, is the price paid in the loss of your civil liberties worth the benefits of the illusion of safety. DNA evidence can be spoofed, or compromised, by the savvy criminal and it is not always necessarily as reliable as it is imagined to be by the general public.

If they ever do manage to force a compulsory national DNA database on us by some devious means (Passports? ID Cards?). it will be great for the Authoritarians who want to check our every move.

Then there is the good old mission creep factor. What else would they get up to with the information? - One could do racial profiling in the name of medical research for instance…

One thing is certain - before long every junior civil servant and council worker in the country would have access and you could be sure they could not be trusted not to leave millions of records on a bus somewhere, or just loose them.

Best it is stopped. It comes to something when a UK citizen has to appeal to the European court to protect their civil rights from our own Government.

2 comments:

The Tin Drummer said...

I'm a little concerned myself about this recent tranche of police officers - unelected and unaccountable - appearing on the media advocating or supporting certain policies. Surely while we cannot directly hold the police to account they should shut up and attempt to enforce the laws which our supposedly democratic politicans make.

Phil A said...

TD, I agree.

The police are supposed to be impartial and are not supposed to get involved with politics.

I guess he justifies it in this case on the grounds of commenting on law enforcement, but Det Supt Stuart Cundy is either naïve, or has little regard for individual civil rights.

His logic could be used to justify any draconian measures that might increase detections. Even if it does result in extra detections or even saves a life, there are some places we just don’t want to go if we are to retain any shred of freedom.

It does seem these days that too many senior police officers feel entitled to sound off.

There is also a tendency these days for people to credulously accept anything a so-called expert says, even if it is not in, or only partially related to, their area of reputed expertise. If I want to know about plumbing I’ll ask a plumber not a psychologist - or a senior police officer.