UK Police Arresting People Just To Add To DNA Database?

from the civil-rights? dept

We were just talking about how pretty much any government database will get abused by government employees eventually. But it's not just on the accessing or revealing of data that this can happen. How about the collection of data as well? Jabberwocky alerts us to the news that police in the UK have supposedly been arresting innocent people just to add them to the UK's DNA database. The report looking into this, sarcastically titled "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear?" finds that nearly one in five of the DNA records in the database are from innocent people. And part of that is an "arrest first, ask questions later" policy towards collecting DNA:
The commission had received evidence from a former police superintendent that it was now the norm to arrest offenders for everything possible. "It is apparently understood by serving police officers that one of the reasons, if not the reason, for the change in practice is so that the DNA of the offender can be obtained," said Montgomery, adding that it would be a matter of very great concern if this was now a widespread practice.
Oh yeah, to make matters worse: "there is very little concrete evidence on the importance of the DNA match in leading to a conviction and whether the suspect would have been identified by other means anyway." Don't you feel safer now?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 5:47pm

    DNA Replication

    DNA samples can be replicated (it is a technique that is commonly used to "amplify" small samples to make them easier to analyze.) Having a ready supply of DNA gathered from targeted suspects would make it relatively easy to frame them by just spreading some of their DNA around a crime scene. The suspect you think committed the crime didn't leave much evidence? No problem, just leave it for them! They probably deserve it anyway, don't they? You're just doing society (and your career) a favor. Relatively risk free for the cops and practically guarantees convictions in court.

     

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  2.  
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    Robert Ring (profile), Nov 25th, 2009 @ 5:52pm

    Man, what the hell is going on with the UK?

     

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  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 6:16pm

    cleanup duty i guess, this report along with the one concerning the policing of the g20 protests in london and the ongoing scandle of mp's expenses and a soon to be general election. everything seems to be coming out so that once the election day comes everything will be out in the open and forgoten about.

     

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  4.  
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    ilia (profile), Nov 25th, 2009 @ 6:29pm

    It's Big Brother with bad teeth!

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 6:43pm

    Replicate DNA? It's easier and cheaper to just gather hairs from the suspect's bathroom.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 25th, 2009 @ 7:04pm

    Re:

    Replicate DNA? It's easier and cheaper to just gather hairs from the suspect's bathroom.

    But not nearly as effective in court. Besides, it would probably be harder, politically, for the police to justify building a collection of hair samples.

     

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  7.  
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    Pwdrskir (profile), Nov 25th, 2009 @ 10:37pm

    Orwell was a F*#$ing Nut

    Oh, the Government decides what is right or wrong. Thanks Mr. Stalin, Mao and Pot for showing us the way. “Power Corrupts,"...you know how it ends.

    Everyone know how this ends, including those that force it.

     

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  8.  
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    Enrico Suarve, Nov 26th, 2009 @ 12:56am

    Re:

    Nothing good my friend, nothing good.

    Just yesterday I read an article in the Times where some people in the comments were activley clamouring for the entire population (including themselves) to be put in the DNA database. The government somehow have people convinced we are in the middle of a serious crimewave when it seems the reverse is actually true - amazing what you can do with statistics.

     

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  9.  
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    Call me Al, Nov 26th, 2009 @ 1:42am

    Our government despises and distrusts those it represents. They want to interfere and control every aspect of our lives. Now they've simply taken to adding our DNA to the monumental amounts of information they already retain about us. I say retain in the loosest possible sense since they regularly misplace it.

    Even the EU has come out against our DNA policy and ordered innocent people to be removed from the database. Of course the police refused that on the basis that the DNA was necessary for crime prevention. They appear to have misunderstood the definition of "innocent", I'm sorely tempted to send the relevant page from the dictionary with it circled to the various chiefs of police.

     

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  10.  
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    Harshal (profile), Nov 26th, 2009 @ 2:08am

    Delete the records of non-criminals

    Shouldn't the system have a built in parameter to not store DNA records of people who get arrested but not eventually convicted?

     

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  11.  
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    NattyFido, Nov 26th, 2009 @ 2:34am

    Thats not the worst part of this story...

    75% of people on the UK DNA database are young black men, because the police target young black men for 'stop and search' etc.

    Why aren't people more upset about this? Because we already know our police are racist.

     

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  12.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2009 @ 2:37am

    Re: Delete the records of non-criminals

    "Shouldn't the system have a built in parameter to not store DNA records of people who get arrested but not eventually convicted?"

    They intend for everyone to be eventually convicted of something. If not now, then later. Keeps people in line.

     

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    wvhillbilly, Nov 26th, 2009 @ 9:01am

    1984

    Shades of George Orwell's "1984"! Now, DNA collection. Next, thought police.

    Oh, I forgot. We already have that in the USA. If you make a disparaging remark about any minority group or person and somebody in that group gets bushwhacked, you can be arrested for inciting that attack. Eureka! A Thought Crime.

    And it's only going to get worse.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 26th, 2009 @ 9:41pm

    UK, you better wake the fuck up before it's too late

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 27th, 2009 @ 7:18pm

    I would feel (slightly) better about this if all police officers and government officials were required to submit their own DNA upon being hired. After all, if they've got nothing to hide....

     

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    WarOtter (profile), Nov 29th, 2009 @ 10:11pm

    Re: DNA Replication

    Just because you saw it on law and order doesn't mean it is true

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 30th, 2009 @ 6:50am

    they can have my dna sure..just as long as its one of the female officers that gets it ;)

     

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  18.  
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    Nastybutler77 (profile), Nov 30th, 2009 @ 1:15pm

    If you've got nothing to hide...

    My response to the whole "If you've got nothing to hide, you're got nothing to fear" BS is that even though I may have nothing to hide NOW, I can't predict the future, and who can say with 100% certainty who or what type of government will be in charge of this information in five, ten, or twenty years? If the economy tanks and a Hitler like despot comes into power, how easy would it be to use DNA and all the other survaillance the UK keeps to start the systematic erradication of whatever faction those in charge oppose? Is that really that far fetched? Maybe a bit, but if I've learned one thing from history it's that it repeats itself.

    People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people. I believe Alan Moore said something like that in "V for Vendetta." The real UK is resembling the UK in that novel more and more each day. The US probably isn't too far behind, but is better at keeping it a secret.

     

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