"DNA samples are retained for up to three years, with scope for an extension on application to a Sheriff."
Sheriff? ????? WTF
If you’d like to express a view about what the government should do with its guidelines on the keeping of DNA samples, you have just three days left to do so. That is if you wish to respond to a consultation – "Keeping the right people on the DNA database" - currently being run by the Home Office and intended "to promote …
After reading various books from coppers on the front line, my own conclusion is that the copper on the ground knows who the trouble makers are. There should be an option for such officers to make a judgement call and keep particular peoples DNA on the database for six years or so.
The police on the ground need to be trusted ... but at the same time the public needs to be protected from bent coppers that run around without ID numbers on their shoulders, harass photographers, make the law up as they go along, etc. Hmmm.... on second thoughts...
I suppose that there could be a test ... someone brought in to the station once in a year doesn't have their DNA kept, but if they've been in within a 12 month previously, this trips their DNA retention for a longer period.
The more often the cop shop sees you, the longer your DNA gets kept.
"The appearance of these cases, in the week before the consultation closes, may – or may not – be mere co-incidence."
anyone thinking there's even a possibility its a coincidence is an idiot.
In spite of a ruling against them by the EU court they still want to keep the DNA of innocent people for 6 to 12 years. Saying that the "S" in the original case was since arrested for a "drug crime" shows exactly why they should NOT be retaining any samples. The only reason they do it is that they can pin any trivial non-crime on anyone they wish.
If you treat people like criminals they are more likely to become criminals. They have less to lose, the difference in their lives between being honest and decent and a criminal is not there.
You criminalize them.
The Jill Dando Institute paper can be summed up as follows:
a) Do innocent people offend the same as small time criminals?, they claim yes.
b) Are small time criminals from the set of ALL criminals? Yes.
c) If I take a set of crime statistics calculated for ALL criminals including petty criminals, if a is true and b is true, then I can use this when referring to innocent people? They claim yes.
d) That these crimes would all have been solved by DNA samples.
Ergo, 50%+ of innocent people commit crimes within the next 6 years of them being fingerprinted and DNAd and deleting the DNA means they escape charge.
a) is not true. They used a table (Page 31) which shows no correlation between those released-with-a-caution and those released-with-a non-custodial-sentence (46 vs 35). If the 2 closest categories don't correlate then how can they claim it is the same as a third category that is very different? (those released with no further action)? To get that third group to correlate, they AVERAGED the other 2 groups. There is no correlation between innocent and cautiioned, no correlation between innocent and non-custodial-sentence group, but if we average them out for these chosen 3 years, we get a number we can correlate.!!!???
This is Jacqui Science.
If you tracked people for 30 months and got 28 crimes, and you tracked a different group for 42 months and got 50 crimes, if you then tracked a third group for 54 months, would you expect a larger or smaller number than 50? You would expect a larger number, yet the table shows a smaller number.... i.e. sample size is insufficient and you simply are measuring random noise.
b) is true, but small time criminals don't re-offend as much as hardened ones, which is why the judges put the hard cases in jail.
c) Is false.
d) is false, did the youth caught doing drugs get caught because of his DNA, or because he was doing drugs!
If I take a group of people, arrest them, take their DNA and check it and check them for all previous unsolved crimes, then find I cannot charge them with ANYTHING and release them.
Then their natural re-offender rate would be the same or less than for the population as a whole for those DNA crimes. Because the population of innocent people hasn't been tested for DNA and he has and found not to match any previous crimes.
Innocent people don't offend as much as petty criminals, and certainly not as much as hardened criminals. The 50% claim is completely bogus.
If you treat people like criminals you make them into criminals. See USA for an example of how you criminalize a large section of the population.
If a criminal attacks an old lady, when they arrest them they take the DNA and test it against the scene of crime DNA. So in the BBC case he would be found guilty and this is not an argument for retention, it is to simply cloud the matter.
If a rozzer pulls a person with no criminal record off the street and takes their DNA, then releases them without any charge, are you really saying that there is a 50% chance they will commit a crime in the next 6 years???? Really?
No University Top up fees, moving towards free prescriptions, Improved school meals before Jamie Oliver, free hospital parking, full disclosure of MSP's expenses and DNA retention policies that are not oppressive.
We may get too much money from Barnet. Our leaders may be knobheads. We may all be dour but at least our parliament has a moral backbone.
Suggest you respond making it clear you are an individual respondent and not part of an organised lobbying group. They used this trick to count the massive anti-ID card response from No2ID as a single view back in the day when they were pretending to care about opinions on that particular proposal.
I cited an example of people being stopped and searched, even arrested, on the basis of false positives from the use of Police dogs to someone. They said that it was a small price to pay if it deterred crime. Unfortunately this is the response from the majority of people.
How much more frequent would this sort of incident happen if everyone had their DNA "fingerprint" stored? Unfortunately, by the time people start to wonder if it was such a good idea it will be too late. Better to stop this before it happens. Equally unfortunately, this Goverment has shown itself willing to do what it likes regardless of public opinion. Odds on, they will completely ignore any arguments against the use of the DNA database.
So let's get this straight.
DNA matching is not a perfect science - last I heard was a 1 in a billion chance of a match for any given person on a DNA sample, which means for any given sample there is approx 6 people in world who will match it.
Fingerprints are far far worse.
Right, so let's assume that our overlords have their way and there is a UK-wide database of DNA and fingerprints with only a small number of people missing or with erroneous entries (because it will never be a perfect database).
So a crime is committed, they pick up some DNA and go and arrest all the people who match (usually just one match for the population of the UK).
A jury is surely going to feel compelled to convict on this evidence alone - but it is flawed, and the wrong person could get sent down.
For fingerprints, they will end up with loads of people who match - much better just to have actual crims on the database then surely?
But not for the first six or twelve years after your wrongful arrest, apparently. SIX years? How about "If you're arrested we'll keep your DNA sample until we either drop charges or you are found 'not guilty' in court"? If you're found guilty, we'll obviously keep it forever.
If I get arrested by mistake, what's the possible benefit of keeping my DNA for SIX years? Apart from natural government control-freakery, that is?
Nice to see Jackboot Jacqui's still wielding her sinister influence from beyond the ministerial grave.
Must remember never to venture south of the border if I ever feel like committing a "drug crime". What're the odds said "drug crime" was plain old possession? Anybody know? The only difference between that phrase and newspeak is a single, lonely, ASCII 0x20.
Having been arrested Damien Green MP, has a 50% chance of going on to commit a Homicide, deal drugs, knife crime, robbery, rape, within the next 6 years, according to that report.
The same as a hardened criminal sent to jail for rape has a 50% chance of committing a crime within 6 years of being released from jail, again according to this report.
Is there a difference between Jill Dando and Jill Dando's killer in Jacqui Smiths mind? Does Alan Johnson really have to commit all the same mistakes as Jacqui Smith simply because she was also from the Labour party? Why?
I find Linda Bowman's remarks rather fatuous - she clearly implies that she would rather all UK citizens have a permanent DNA record, to punish and bring to justice any crime, however minor, immediately. When will people like her realise that for a society to progress toward the ideal of true freedom (viz, its ability to function harmoniously and autonomously, with minimal governmental/judicial intervention), individuals must be given the ability to make informed decisions without the threat of immediate forensic reprimand, should they mess up?
If the spectre of judicial punishment hangs over every facet of a persons' life (which it will, given the sort of DNA database state both she and Ms Smith are proposing), the individual's need for a decision process will be removed by default and the only options are to either never break the law or go to straight to jail. People so ready to abdicate their free will to the better judgement of the state forget that the law is no absolute but is, in reality, a set of guidelines by which people are encouraged to do the right thing, as opposed to being subject to immediate justice should they wander outside of it. One's free will is the last bastion of the individual and should be nurtured and coveted, not gaily frittered away.
The most worrying consequence of this digital, push-button interpretation of the law is that many individuals will never learn how to make their own, informed adult decisions. Ms Smith may propose a carrot and stick approach to regulation of society but in this case, she has very much placed all the emphasis on the stick. I am afraid this kind of legislation is very much a case of two steps backward on the road toward a world of the informed, individualistic, liberated free thinking of which all human beings are capable.
Maybe I can make it as clear as day why I dislike this deception so much.
Suppose the re-offender rates within 6 years from a date:
Hardened criminals, who were previously in prison 800 per 1000
Petty, criminals prosecuted but not sent to prison 80 per 1000
Innocent people 40 per 1000
Clearly 40 is not 800, so I discard the people sent to prison, claiming that their prison time makes it difficult to determine the 6 years to count.
But 40 is not 80, so I split the petty criminal group into 2 parts, people given a caution and people given a non custodial sentence, say 35 and 45.
I then average 35 and 45 and get 40, HAH the SAME as innocent people!
So, if criminals commit (800+80)/(1000+1000) = 44% reoffender rate, then it follows that innocent people have a 44% offender rate!
Not, they had a 4% offender rate, I played with the numbers in the same way as Jill Dando man to deceive.
If it did not fit, I would split them into 3 groups, or 4 groups and average those.
That paper needs to go through the office of government statistics, so that they can explain the statistical deceptions here. The straw man arguments and false dichotomies aside.
Isn't being the victim of crime a far worse breach of my human rights that having my details stored on a (relatively) secure, automated and tightly controlled computer system?
If the DNADB can act as an effective deterrent (and why wouldn't it - would you offend if you knew your DNA could be used to prove you were at the scene?), even a little, I'm all for unlimited retention and compulsory sampling of *all* British Citizens.
"In February last year the Home Office claimed that samples taken from people who had never been convicted of a crime had led to matches in 14,000 crimes since 2001, including 68 sex attacks and 55 attempted murders.
The UK's National DNA Database is the largest in the world, with more than 5.8 million profiles. "
So there have been 5.8 million profiles taken, and only 14,000 matches? I can see the system works now.
You should only collect DNA when a person is suspected of having committed a crime
If the person is charged and convicted, the DNA should be kept until one year after probation
If the person is charged and not convicted, the DNA should be kept for one year after the charge was made
After one year, all the DNA concerning that person should be deleted
There should be absolutely no exceptions to the above rules for anybody whatsoever under any circumstances
Doesn't the Home Office proposal go against the principal of only the courts being able to find a person innocent or guilty. It appears as if the police decided to arrest you; objecting incorrectly to a stop and search, being too tall as a photographer, malicious designs of a spurned girlfriend etc etc, then you're hosed. If you've been arrested, you're on the database for 6 or 12 years regardless of innocence or guilt as decided by the courts. Regardless of the circumstances of your arrest, you are flagged as likely to commit further crimes and therefore they feel justified in keeping your DNA.
The second point is I wouldn't actually mind having my DNA on the database if I had the slightest confidence that it wouldn't be misused or more likely ( without the tinfoil hat on ) mistakes made. Who's to say that the paedobear A. Poster from Stanley Lane in Liverpool won't get mixed up with the upstanding accountant A. Poster from Stanley Road in Liverpool.
Then what happens when the press get into the database and started publishing the DNA sequences on offenders.
Here's an example of why having your details stored if you're innocent is a very very bad idea.
Man arrested in a case of mistaken identity. DNA retained despite real offender being captured. Man posts Xmas cards. Postbox burgled and post recovered five years later. Man's DNA on Christmas card to granny. Man arrested and pressured to take a caution as 'we have your DNA and can prove you did it'. Fortunately man is law student.
His first wrongful arrest and subsequent DNA retention led directly to his second wrongful arrest, which is building up a profile of criminality and making it all the more likely that police will come after him as a wrong 'un in future. It's also clear that the police think that DNA presence at crime scene = guilty, if you're already on the database, as I doubt that everyone else whose post was recovered was arrested and pressured to confess.
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Yes, in Scotland the equivalent of a magistrate is a sheriff, the equivalent of the CPS is the Procurator Fiscal.
Back to the subject -
Has no one told these people that innocent people are exactly that - innocent? So they not only HAVEN'T done anything, there is no proof that they WILL. And how can you have a 'consultation' on whether or not the government should obey the law? The European COURT, not the parliament, told Jacqboot in no uncertain terms what had to be done, and now they're just going "La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la..."
In my opinion it's an acceptable risk. I suspect that in yours, it isn't. I'd rather have a 1% increase false positive rate and 10% increase in true positives than a 0% increase in both.
1) Yes it would be great if we could distinguish between the innocent people and the criminals-to-be and only store the DNA of the latter, but we can't. We're all *potential* criminals - not to be confused with *liikely* criminals. I'd like to put your records on the DB too, but it doesn't mean I think you're a rapist.
2) We don't live in a utopian society filled with wonderful happy good hearted people. Sure, it's great to think that if the big bad government would only trust us we'd be good little boys and girls and never do anything naughty. I hate to disappoint you, but that's just not going to happen.
"I'm guessing you're a rapist? Am I right? You like to rape the girlies?"
Gee, that's friendly. There are plenty of ways of using DNA to help with the solving of crimes. Yes it has a bad reputation as a silver bullet and I don't deny that there have been terrible cases of blinkered bobbies jumping to conclusions but it can be sensibly used to add evidence to pretty much any crime where contact or location are important.
@both of you
The difference in opinion has a lot to do with the focus on the individual cases. IMO, they aren't hugely relevant. It doesn't mean I don't feel for the guy who gets wrongfully convicted, but in the grand scheme of things I don't *really* care, neither do the government, and neither should they. Their primary concern (in theory at least, after getting re-elected and looking like a bunch of pricks etc) should be to provide the solution which gives the greatest quality of life to the greatest number of people. Something they've so far been pretty crap at.
@"In my opinion it's an acceptable risk."
Lets have a vote. As per my last sentence, NuLabour can stand on that platform and you can see if your opinion is representative.
"Potential vs likely criminals.... not to be confused with *liikely* criminals"
Does your wording make the slur any better? Ultimately you are saying everyone should be viewed as a potential criminal, even when they've done nothing wrong. This is a failed society. It's like Stasi E Germany with everyone being watched as a threat to society!
"We don't live in a utopian society filled with wonderful happy good hearted people"
We never did, there is nothing new here, only that Britain is running off the rails and Hm.gov is taking ill conceived panic steps to fix it. People would rather stab a stranger than shake their hands, and neighbours call the police rather than ask them next door to turn down a stereo...
@"There are plenty of ways of using DNA to help with the solving of crimes"
You argued that *you* would be happy for *your* DNA to go on file. But if you don't commit crimes what benefit is that? Unless you are the sort of person who commits crimes that DNA helps detect and otherwise wouldn't be caught. I ask again, what crimes are you planning on?
This is the core of 'innocent unless proven guilty',
I accused you of being a 'potential' rapist, does it make it friendlier if I accused you of not being a 'likely' rapist? Perhaps you're just an innocent person who deserves to be treated as such?
Do you get to a better society by treating everyone increasingly worse and worse and more suspiciously and more jaundice? Is that how you make society better?
The HO proposal, failing to distinguish between arrest, charge, trial, and conviction, and making arrest the cut-off for retention of samples, is simply doing as that stupid proportion of the Hoi Polloi (and Plod) does, to presume that arrest really means guilty - and that it is only incompetence (or worse) in the judicial system that allows some people to be exonerated.
Where's the 2-fingers icon when you need one?
IANAL, but the proposal does really address the "proportionality" ruling, and could have been written by Plod to suit themselves.
"I'd rather have a 1% increase false positive rate and 10% increase in true positives than a 0% increase in both."
I let that 10% slip by uncommented. If the offending rate of innocent people is really 1% in those 6 years (I think is reasonable if 5% over a lifetime commit crimes) and 1% of crimes are the type that benefit from DNA, e.g. rape, murder etc. are the ones where DNA samples is taken, not minor crimes that make up the bulk of crime, and say 10% of those wouldn't be caught normally** then it is not 10%, it is 0.001%, i.e. 1.66e-4 in 1 year.
i.e. if 843 murders a year in UK (from crime stats), we're talking 0.14 extra murders solved.
** By Not *Normally* I mean by the mechanism of suspicion > evidence > prosecution. Which includes taking DNA evidence of the suspects.... since the police can always arrest people previously arrested for other crimes if they have reason to suspect them for the new crime, and can take the DNA at that point.
As for the false positives, that's the least of the problems with building a massive database with data identifying the physical characteristics of everyone and storing it under a regime that practically hands it out to everyone whose curious.
"...see if your opinion is representative."
Nah, there's no point. I know it's not, but it's still the way I feel about it. That's the joy of living in a democracy.
"Ultimately you are saying everyone should be viewed as a potential criminal... This is a failed society"
Yes that's what I'm saying, and yes I would say it's already a failed society. In fact all societies are flawed to a degree and always will be. My argument is that we have to accept that and do our best to mitigate the effects of it.
"But if you don't commit crimes what benefit is that?"
Well, you know, I wasn't aiming for it to just be me. I don't think anyone is asking for a voluntary system, are they? However, I represent one of 50-60 million British citizens who are, as I already said, potential criminals. For every million 'innocent' people, some number will go on to offend. When you're talking about laws for society, you have to look at things in terms of statistics because it's impossible to make informed judgments about individuals. You're suggesting that we trust random, non-specific members of society to not commit crimes even when we have the statistics to prove that X% of 'innocent', i.e. never-convicted citizens will offend at some point. How can we trust society when we have the facts to prove that it isn't trustworthy?
"This is the core of 'innocent unless proven guilty'."
And I agree with this principle entirely. I don't agree that keeping a record of my DNA indicates that I'm guilty of anything. Only that I'm one of a very large group which includes people who are guilty.
"does it make it friendlier if I accused you of not being a 'likely' rapist"
You actually said you 'guessed' I was a rapist. The fact is, you don't know if I am or not. Statistically, and from the perspective of what you know about me (incidentally, not hugely more or less than the government probably knows about me) there's probably a certain (small) chance that I might be. Do you trust me not to be? I don't see any reason why either you or the government should assume that I'm not.
I'd be singing a different song if this was going to restrict us in any way, but it doesn't. It's an purely reactionary system, designed to aid in the prosecution not prevention of crime (the latter only in the form of a deterrent). We would retain all our freedoms to do what we like (including raping, if that's what we want to do). In almost all cases it would have no effect on us whatsoever until such time as we committed a crime. To me it's in refreshing contrast to the likes of DRM which actually stop people from doing things which *might* include illegal activity. But I digress...
Clearly there's a difference of opinion here (!!) about the value of privacy. I think it's overrated.
PS, I'm not a rapist ;)
"When you're talking about laws for society, you have to look at things in terms of statistics because it's impossible to make informed judgments about individuals."
I'm saying the statistics quoted are bogus and that paper should go through the independant gov stas review office so it's clear just what junk that is.
"You actually said you 'guessed' I was a rapist."
You said it would deter crime if it included *all* people on the database, (which includes yourself). If you won't stick up for your own innocence, then who am I to argue. So it comes down to guessing which crime you will commit. I guessed rape. A terrorist perhaps? A drug dealer?
" The fact is, you don't know if I am or not. Statistically, and from the perspective of what you know about me (incidentally, not hugely more or less than the government probably knows about me) there's probably a certain (small) chance that I might be. Do you trust me not to be? I don't see any reason why either you or the government should assume that I'm not."
In reality, and despite your own lack of defense of your own innocence, I assume that you are innocent of crime unless I have evidence to suggest otherwise. Not 48% innocent until I know you for 6 years.
The Home Office says that there is a 50%+ chance that these innocent people will go on to commit crimes within 6 years, and presumably these are crimes for which DNA is important and so should be kept. i.e. serious crimes.
On the basis of this, it asserts that Human Rights don't matter because the gain is so great.
The paper is junk and Human Rights DO matter.
"I'd be singing a different song if this was going to restrict us in any way, but it doesn't."
I don't believe that, I believe just as relative-matching-by-profile has been developed in recent years, so will correlation profiling to disease, correlation profiling to ability, etc. it will be used to select you for jobs, insurance, clubs God only knows what. I am constantly surprised at how people get from one piece of data to another in unexpected ways!
I don't like surprise when it comes to my privacy. I don't want you to have data that will come back to surprise me in unpleasant ways and as an innocent person I don't why I should give up my right to privacy.
I am saying that this experiment in control and surveillance belongs to dictatorships. Let them discover the horror that is Gene-CCTV. I don't wish to repeat the same mistake that was made under Blunkett, with actual CCTV. Let them discover the future, because the actual benefit of keeping innocent peoples DNA is not worth the damage you do to society.
And if it is, then Home Office won't need to make up phoney stats, because it would have real stats.
"Of these 200,000 proiles, approximately 8,500 proiles from some 6,290 individuals have been linked with crime scene proiles..."
So some people have multiple profiles which is an interesting, if darn confusing, snippet of information. Were there some people with multiple profiles where only one of the profiles matched but not the other(s)?
Very curious indeed.
McHaggis: "I don't agree that keeping a record of my DNA indicates that I'm guilty of anything."
The Home Office's use of statistics suggest that they *do* agree with that sentiment however, and their opinion is the one that matters.
Perhaps some benefits:
You could test cigarette butts to see who dropped them.
You could test the DNA on door handles for school applications, to make sure the person lives where they say they are.
Benefit inspectors could swab a house to check the single mum is really living alone.
You could run queries on the database to locate the biological father of single kids and send them a maintenance bill.
Did they leave their bin lid open? Check the samples on the handle of the bin.
Who took a crap in that forest? Lets DNA test it.
Is my wife seeing someone? I'll get the place swabbed, now that the DNA samples of everyone has been distributed widely, a company on the net will tell me who it was for 50 quid.
Are you from a family that previously had a lot of strokes, and hence should be refused heart transplants in place of someone less likely to die? Just match your DNA to your families and cross match it to the insurance payout record.
The benefits of this DNA stuff are endless! Well worth losing the right to privacy for.
Even if we ignore the human rights side, a huge DNA database won't do what the government wants it to do.
The detection of crime is terrible at the moment. Police officers regularly don't take actions like checking phone records or considering if two witness statements contradict each other before deciding to charge someone. The CPS lets cases go ahead that haven't got a possibility of winning, when vast amounts of public money could have been saved by having the police do some more investigation before they put a case together.
What use will it be to have yet another source of data to be used by a regime that can't even do the statistics that are supposed to support it properly?
Should have been "IANAL, but the proposal does not really address the "proportionality" ruling, and could have been written by Plod to suit themselves."
The discrepancy in retention policy between England and Scotland (for instance) can also be seen as a disproportionality at best, racism at worst, but probably only reflects the particular preferences of ACPO Ltd.
"I'd be singing a different song if this was going to restrict us in any way, but it doesn't. It's an purely reactionary system, designed to aid in the prosecution not prevention of crime (the latter only in the form of a deterrent). We would retain all our freedoms to do what we like"
Actually what you're proposing - a compulsory DNA database of everyone in the UK - would be extremely restrictive as it would require a state apparatus far in excess of anything dreamt up by the Stasi. Compulsory sampling of the 55m or so not on the database, a large percentage unwilling, an ongoing programme sampling of all babies at birth, and a fortress borders policy which would be able to capture the DNA of every single foreign visitor at all ports of entry, from the banker flying in to do a six month contract in the City, to the French tourist on a day trip on the ferry or the Irishman popping over to Belfast. Can't happen without millions more working for the state, social unrest, and the complete collapse of tourism and overseas investment. I don't think even Labour would suggest this. I mean it would be as stupid as suggesting we put CCTV up in people's homes. Oh wait.
"Their primary concern should be to provide the solution which gives the greatest quality of life to the greatest number of people."
Their primary concern should be to COMPLY with a ruling of the ECHR and wipe all DNA profiles and fingerprints of those NOT CONVICTED.
It seems ludicrous to consider "suspects" 'Guilty' and continue to hold data just based on the Police decision to arrest. That's judging them guilty, even if cleared by a court hearing.
Sure, keep the data for those convicted - it might even help clear them if new evidence comes up later, but it seems OTT to me to keep data "just in case" for 6 years, let alone 12, when the presented evidence failed to convict someone!
I will certainly be submitting a response, reminding them their proposals go against the ruling of the court and to continue to keep data is wrong, when based on suspicion alone.
I've just heard the harshest criticism of the use of statistics in this consultation - an eminent statistician described the misuse of the statistics as comparable to "lying to the House" and seemed to lay the blame on Jacqui Smith (without actually saying her name)!
Just take a listen - BBC Radio 4 - "More or Less" within the last 10 minutes of show.
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