back to article back to the drawing board on DNA retention

The government has dumped a heavily-criticised plan to retain the DNA profiles of innocent people for up to 12 years, after the researchers behind evidence it was based on disowned the policy. Today, the Home Office said the forthcoming Crime and Policing bill won't include the proposals. It's now unclear what ministers plan …


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  1. dervheid

    What are they going to do?




    Just ignore it and hope it will go away.

  2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse


    Don't tell me somebody thought THAT Jill Dando important enough to have some sort of centre named after her FFS!!!!

    I think it would just save a lot of time and perhaps gain this current bunch of idiots in the home office some kudos if they just came right out and said "you know what UK? We're gonna remove all DNA from the database ASAP and confirm to you that it's been done."

    What a nice dream eh?

  3. Dick Emery
    Thumb Down

    You are #6

    This government won't be happy until we all have barcodes on our foreheads, and CCTV in every room of the home wired up to their intelligence network.

    This country stinks. If I could afford it I would have left already.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Ditch The Lot!

    "A Home Office statement said today: "The Government will take the most expedient route to address the issue as soon as possible in order to comply with the European Court's judgement.""

    The state is under no obligation to retain DNA samples or profiles of anyone. The state is, however, obliged to discontinue keeping samples and profiles of innocent people.

    The solution is therefore simple and obvious: destroy the lot.

    The government has had more than enough time to comply with their obligations. They shouldn't have been infringing the rights of innocent people in the first place. They should simply destroy all DNA samples and profiles taken from innocent people without any further delay. And if that means destroying samples and profiles from guilty people as well, so be it.

    I doubt they would actually have to destroy samples and profiles of guilty people, though. I presume they can quite easily tell which samples and profiles are from those convicted of crimes, and which aren't. Go through the lot of them, and destroy everything that's not from someone convicted of a crime.

    It's about, you know, putting the rights of innocent people first. Otherwise there's no point in tackling crime in the first place anyway.

  5. Richard Jones 1

    Guilty of Being Suspected?

    Perhaps this is the way for Crook, Suspect and Robbem & Co., sorry the Goophymint to go forward, - make those not guilty of a crime guilty of having been a suspect in a crime.

    Will they be adding dodgy MP's DNA to the database?


  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Take a close look at todays Police decision

    Sounds promising, once all the appeals are over, they are innocent, wipe their DNA sample, otherwise justify taking samples at birth for everyone. One or other, but not DNA samples of innocent people by the back door like this.

    They should also take a look at todays Law Lords decision to let the police keep records of childrens convictions. Those convictions for under 14s are showing up on their adult criminal background checks and preventing them getting jobs as adults, even though they don't have convictions as adults.

    Because the Lords decided it's up to the police if they keep it or not, it means they will now keep all childrens records all the time. Children are not adults, they can't even properly represent themselves in court, and no parent ever accepted a 'caution' for their child, if they'd have known it would show up as a conviction and affect their adult life!

    It is bad, yet again it is the police driving policy as though the fix to everything is to lock more people up. Everyone is a nail to the hammers.

    Holland is renting a jail to Belgium now because they have don't have enough criminals to fill their own jails.

    Look at the USA, everything is a punitive punishment, every minor crime results in a serious penalty and the result is a collapsing society, with people splitting off into gated communities and cohesion breaking down.

    The UK is on the USA track, not the dutch track. Look at the USA, that is your future, and it's not the fault of immigrants!

  7. Cameron Colley

    RE: You are #6

    But, where to go? Most "free", "capitalist" countries nowadays are turning into a Marxist wet dream.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Reason the Police like DNA

    We worked on a contract for the MET on another database.

    Talking to the senior cops it seemed that they had originally been sold the idea that they would be able to identify suspects directly from DNA. So a sample at a crime scene would tell them that it was a 6ft white male with blue eyes and a limp.

    About half of them reckoned they had been conned but half thought that would eventually be possible once they had enough data.

  9. Guy Herbert


    You have to have some sneaking admiration for the Home Office's complete lack of shame and conscience in suggesting not doing anything at all for another 6 months at least, after postponing any action for 10 months already through its ludicrous consultation on some proposals designed to stave off doing anything till a court case on the new 6 years limit, as "expeditiously complying with the ruling".

    Note, too, that by removing the relevant order-making power from the bill, they have ensured that no incoming Home Secretary can change the situation without further primary legislation. If it is not going to get the changes in the way ot wants them, then there won't be any changes. The equivalent of taking the ball home after being sent off for a foul.

  10. Luther Blissett

    Kicked from the long grass into the longer grass

    I can no longer distinguish between nu labour's foot-dragging and their knuckle-dragging, i.e. which is cause and which is effect.

    A simpler question: is the Home Office fit for purpose yet?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Soddin' ACPO!!!

    Can't someone charge the bunch of unaccountable twits with incitement to break the law or something?

    Anonymous for obvious reasons...

  12. nsld
    Paris Hilton

    Someone at JDI should get fired

    Scientists that publish after receiving govt funding and produce material that is false should not be working in any scientific field.

    If they had any honour they would be getting out the ceremonial sword and the prayer mat and doing the decent thing.

    How the fuck these people have kept jobs is beyond me anyone else who did this kind of thing would be fired on the spot for gross misconduct.

    I can imagine the conversation at JDI headquarters:

    drone 1: " That smith woman from the home office wants us to publish this research"

    drone 2: "we cant, its a steaming pile of shit, a chimpanzee on crack could work out that we made the whole thing up"

    The boss: " I can think of 3.9 million reasons to publish, just get on with it, after all, its for a home office consultation, who is going to read it?"

    Undoudtedly Smith knew she was asking for research to be produced to order to match her agenda, she should be prosecuted for Malfeasance in Public office and the woman from the JDI and the "researcher" who wrote this junk should be fired immediately,

    Paris, at least she has more credibility than the JDI

  13. Anonymous Coward

    @ Dick Emery

    Dick Emery: "This government won't be happy until we all have barcodes on our foreheads, and CCTV in every room of the home wired up to their intelligence network."

  14. Anonymous Coward

    so how many bigwigs have their DNA on file

    None...and won't...they're special you know.

  15. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    either appeal the decision or get on with dumping them

    Either agree you are trying to implement an authoritarian police state using very discredited data or attempt to defend your position.

  16. Tom Chiverton 1 Silver badge

    @Dick Emery

    Don't leave - vote them out !

  17. Andus McCoatover

    Opens up another can of them wiggly critters...

    OK, Hypothetical question - replies by criminally-legally qualified (oops!) folks needed, but..

    If a perp was nabbed on DNA alone, yet the DNA collection has been ruled illegal, what then? Like an illegal phone-tap?

    Inadmissable? Perp walks? Surely, this is what can happen while the gummint drags its feet. As soon as HM Gov. does the legally mandated thing, then the scenario surely won't happen.

    Or, will it?

    ( I love that "We are studying the judgement carefully" crap. What if some ne'er-do-well used that in deference of sentence for nicking someone's wheels to postpone his sentence for, oh, I dunno, 5 years?

    Or, Your Honour, I sincerely believed my Duck-house expense was strictly within the Commons' rules, but I shall consider the judgement most carefully - i.e., Fuc*k Off!!)

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The obviously correct length of time

    to retain the DNA of someone not charged or convicted is 'not at all' - period.

  19. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    @Dick Emery

    I had the opportunity to emigrate about 15 years ago. I kick myself hard every day for turning it down.

  20. Andrew Taylor 1

    wtf has it to do with ACPO

    They are a private company that acts as a pressure group for a very small group of self interested and power hungry people. They should be forced to close and stop pressuring the Govt. to give the Police, ie themselves, more power.

  21. Charles Smith

    The difference

    The only reason for retaining the DNA of non-convicted people is to satisfy the officials' need to feel power over the people who fund them.

    A definite vote loser for this failed UK government. Watch them try to avoid dealing with this issue before the next election.

  22. Sarev

    You've got to love Gov speak...

    I love it when, 12 months after being told they are acting illegally, a Govt spokesdrone says that the Government "will take the most expedient route to address the issue as soon as possible".


  23. Anonymous Coward

    Wrong way round!

    We shouldn't be fighting to RETAIN our rights, the Politicians and the Knobs should be fighting to PROTECT our rights...

    Who's in charge?

    Ultimately, we are.

    Does the UK have a Bastille?

  24. Ray0x6

    "might as well stick their finger in..."

    you know the rest

  25. Jon999

    Well as everyone...

    Well as everyone is against keeping DNA profiles, i have to go against the flow.

    Why care if they got your DNA profile in a database?

    Our passport photo is already on databases, and everyone who has gone through US customs will have their fingerprint taken as well.

    Big deal, if they have some DNA taken off you as well. Makes no difference

    Granade, as I expect one in the post

  26. ShaggyDoggy


    At what point can the police legally ask to take a DNA sample ?

    What's the actual action point in the process please.

  27. Paul 4

    @You are #6

    Na. They are working on facial recognition. Much easyer than getting a barcode on everyone, and much more difficult to change your face than a barcode.

  28. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge


    AFAIK, the police can't (officially) get away with, "I arrested him for looking like a criminal", but they can get away with, "I detained him because a small portion of his DNA, which is not guranteed to be uniqe to an individual is similiar to the same region in some DNA found at a crime scene". I can't think of any situation where the police would be using your passport photo to imply your involvement (or otherwise) in a crime.

    And your point about US customs is quite valid - this is exactly why I won't travel to the US unless I ABSOLUTELY must. I am deeply uneasy that the fingerprints taken from people by customs officials will end up in a police database and will be used, possibly erroneously, to link a person to a crime. Tie this in with the ridiculously one-sided extradition treaty we have with our Merkin cousins, and a person could find themselves extradited and tried in the US for a crime that they have no link to, simply because they once travelled to the US and their fingerprints resemble some found at a crime scene.

    Fingerprints have not been proven to be unique either, they are just ASSUMED to be, since they have been in use for over a century. Strangely enough, it is not beyond the realms of possibility to have studies conducted into the degree of statistical confidence that you can get from matching large numbers of fingerprints, but TPTB seem to be dragging their feet on this one. Instead, the police claim 100% accuracy in matching fingerprints and resist calls to have their accuracy properly tested. This is in part due to the fact that when (not if), they are found to be not 100% accurate, those 'guilty' of a crime (in the police's eyes) would be able to use that fact in their defence, and the police would have to rely on other evidence to gain a conviction. This is clearly too much like hard work, and we couldn't possibly expect that of poor plod.

  29. Cucumber C Face

    Jill Dando Institute - how apt

    Lock up the first sad f%£&er you can stitch up for the crime - case solved!

    In the case of DNA retention - arrest anyone whose shed skin cell happened to come to rest near a crime scene possibly years before it was committed - even assuming you didn't mix up the samples at any stage in the process. FAIL

  30. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    @ Ed Blackshaw

    You might like to look at the situation in the Scottish forensics lab (reported a while ago on Panorama)

    Prints no where near those taken at crime scene climed to match those at crime scene.

    Repeated "we are the experts" defense in face of mouting evidence they were not fit for purpose.

    IIRC they are digitised on a 512 x 512 grid. If it is a true binary picture that is 2^512^2, a very big number. However twins have identical fingerprints, so what about slightly further seperated relatives?

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Proud Member

    I am a proud member of the DNA database, and as a potential desperate and hardened criminal, frankly I deserve to be on it. I'm certainly not bothered by the fact that should my name be released in connection with this list, my peaceful and crime-free life would be destroyed. The government obviously have my best interests and the interests of the country at heart when they illegally and immorally stored my fingerprints, mugshots, personal details and DNA for possible "future crimes".

    Its certain made me think twice about going out with a .50 caliber rifle and taking the heads of a couple of captains of industry. Thank you Britain for being the world biggest douche, you have saved me from myself.

  32. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    @John Smith

    My point exactly! However, I do feel the need to correct you on the common misconception that identical twins have identical fingerprints. Although having fingerprints in the first place could be viewed as a genetic trait, the shape that a person's fingerprints develops into in utero is not genetically determined.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    At what point can the police legally ask to take a DNA sample? - Any time they like.

    They can take one by force in certain (reasonably well defined) circumstances, I did read it up once, I think you need look for PACE.

    My understanding (IANAL) is that, when asked for a DNA sample, you are at liberty to refuse consent. The old bill will then threaten you with things like telling your employer, locking you up for ever because you're a pdo, putting your name and address in the paper, whatever. If they don't lose patience and beat a confession out of you, they can get a doctor, hold you down and get their sample. How much you want to fight is up to you; you may prefer to die on your feet etc etc etc.

    Since refusal to provide DNA is taken as evidence of guilt, the cops are unlikely to let this lie; I suppose there is the outside chance that they'll say sod it, we don't really need this blokes sample.

    Another option would be to say (true or not) that your DNA is already on file...

  34. Jon999

    @Ed Blackshaw

    "I can't think of any situation where the police would be using your passport photo to imply your involvement (or otherwise) in a crime"

    I know it is probably a remote chance at the moment, but i cant imagine we are far off from having automatic face recognition software running on CCTV cameras.

    You could imagine that would be running against the passport photo database

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