back to article New DNA rules may still breach human rights

The government's plans to limit DNA retention from those arrested but not charged or convicted may not go far enough, according to the body that ensures human rights rulings are obeyed. Last month the Home Office said that - in response to a defeat at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) - it would cut the retention …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    Oh FFS !!!!!!

    It's not as if they weren't warned at the off about this ...

  2. Sir Runcible Spoon

    I like traffic lights

    Until The Sun gets hold of this story and can dumb it down enough for the oiks to understand we are going to continue to be harrased by the people who supposedly work for us.

    Mr Policeman: Is that a camera you're holding towards me?

    J.Public : No, it's my phone

    Mr Policeman: I am arresting you under s44 of the fear act, let me put this swab in your mouth. Welcome to the database sonny.

    J.Public : But I haven't done anything wrong!

    Mr Policeman: Not yet you haven't, but by the time we've scraped your home computer for random data and ask you for the key to decrypt it you'll be spending the next 10 years in chokey.

    J.Public : Oh, ok. Well, as long as it's for THE GREATER GOOD, I have nothing to hide.

    What's beyond despair?

    1. Mike Richards Silver badge

      @ Sir Runcible Spoon

      'What's beyond despair?'


  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Look its really simple

    You have a set of people {a,b,c,d,e,f,g,x,y,z}, one of them is a murderer.

    I arrest people at random, {a,b,c,d,e} I take their DNA and find that none matches previous crimes, I find they are innocent and let them go. They are not the murderer.

    I am left with people {f,g,x,y,z} who I haven't (yet) arrested, and don't have their DNA.

    The probability that one of the set of {a,b,c,d,e} is the murderer is ZERO, I've already checked them, and for some reason I'm keeping their DNA on file, even though I could pin NOTHING on them, even from EVERY previous crime committed for which I have DNA. yet despite this I somehow imagine that they are likely to go onto commit a crime for which DNA will be useful.

    The probability that {f,g,x,y,z} match the DNA is 1 in 5, because I haven't arrested them yet and don't have their DNA on file.

    So to be clear, there is a higher probability that the members of Parliament, the Cabinet members, Lord Mandleson, Jacqui Smith, and Alan Johnson match the DNA of unsolved crimes, than people who have been arrested and had their DNA checked.

    Unless you plan on arresting everyone in the whole country, THIS IS NOT FAIR TO INNOCENT PEOPLE.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      To a police, you are a criminal, always

      "Unless you plan on arresting everyone in the whole country, THIS IS NOT FAIR TO INNOCENT PEOPLE."

      Put of course this _is the point_: There are no innocent people.

      There are only those who have been found guilty and those who haven't, yet.

      Every one is a criminal to current police force. And deserves thus to be treated like one, too. A trend that can be seen everywhere, not just in Britain or EU.

      Exactly like Stalin-era governement, isn't it? All hail the Soviet Europe.

  4. Anonymous Coward

    No doubt

    Some idiot will post the usual "nothing to fear, nothing to hide" line soon, so in a probably futile attempt to discourage them...

    Please, for the love of freedom, look that phrase up on a search engine, and read about it. If you still think DNA retention of the information of the innocent is ok, then read it again more carefully, because you really have not understood it.

    If you continue to think it's ok, then please send me a copy of your passport and credit card bills, take down all your curtains, and install a webcam in your bedroom. (Oh, and shave your head and call yourself "Winston" too while you're at it)

    Mine's the one with pockets full of dust collected from public transport - never know when you might want to "seed" a scene...

  5. Scott 19

    Don't worry

    They'll just ignore this same as last time and then pay the big fine with your money, they don't care it's not there money and if they run out they can just borrow some more. My new moto 'The UK the first country to regress back to a 3rd rate tin pot regime in history', all i can say to you Scot's, Welsh of NIers is get out while you can before we drag you down as well.

    I read a good article in one of the tabloids about stripping back guberment to save money to the bare essentials, they did it in Canda and it worked, ouch don't pinch me now you've woken me up.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    What part of " you may not retain the DNA of innocent people" does this idiot government not understand ?

    Time for sanctions to be applied until NuLab get the message

    1. deadlockvictim Silver badge


      I think that you'll find that 'innocence' will be defined by absence from the DB. If you're in the DB, then you were definitely suspected of something once, ergo, you are not innocent.

      If you want to remain innocent, join the Inner party by becoming a senior politician, civil servant or policeman.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Laws yet to come

    Speeding used to require a police car in pursuit for 2/3 mile with lights flashing, and the penalties were set within this context. Unfortunately "conviction creep" has now made this an automated and massively enforced revenue stream.

    Who is to say that in response to public disgust over discarded cigarette ends, the DNA database will be used to identify the social pariahs responsible and to serve them with a hefty fine (now standing at £75 i believe)

    The sad thing is, most people would probably think it was a good thing, blind to the chains they bind themselves with.

  8. David Adams

    Well if you've nothing to hide, then you've nothing to fear have you?

    Sorry, It's the medication....

    The white coat with the long strappy arms please.

  9. Jacqui


    The original DNA matching scheme assumed that DNA samples would be limited and targeted for a specific criminal investigation - such as people involved or related to a specific murder. Originally a DNA sample would on avergage match say one in 500K people.

    If you have only two or three thousand "targetted" samples you chance of hitting a false positive is reasonably low.

    Using the same/very similar matching scheme with millions or random DNA samples *Must* result is a very large number of false positives - and given the number of cases where some poor sod spends five years in jail for some crime before they either find the real crim (he confesses) or someone (usually a TV journo) finally manages to prove he is innocent is growing.

    In many of the above cases, investigating officers have *known* the suspect was innocent and have hid, destroyed, doctored or ignored statements or evidence to ensure a conviction. How can anyone ever trust a police officer when this sort of thing still routinely goes on?

  10. Peter Mc Aulay
    Thumb Down

    Nothing to hide, nothing to fear

    Only when I have nothing to fear will I have nothing to hide.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      @Peter Mc Aulay

      Respect my authoritae!

  11. Charles Smith

    Dear Labour Politicians ....

    As Members of Parliament you are supposed to be representing the public, not ruling over them. We are not your subjects you are our representatives.

    Why do you seem only to want to listen to the authoritarian police and the sales guys of the identity card systems?

    Perhaps this system is needed because to want to track the 1 in 11 people living in the UK who were not born in this country?

    Even the EC say you have got it wrong.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Fingers too

    The ECHR ruling covered, er, finger fingerprints as well as DNA fingerprints. Why do reporters so seldom mention this? It's probably more significant than the DNA story.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    fear or no fear that is the question...

    I don’t know which way to go with this.... one side of me thinks that if everyone’s DNA was taken at birth and held in a database then the ability to get away with crime may be reduced,,, well, for a short while anyway... until everyone becomes more forensically aware...

    Personally, I would run the database on a two tear system.... run by two separate agencies. The DNA database would be referenced by a number only... any queries would be run against the database and the supplied reference number would be issued if there was a match. Only then would they be able to look up and retrieve the identity of the sample.. A lot of messing about i know, but it would keep the data a little more secure than the usual gubbermint fiasco..

    But on the other hand.... unless you have been found guilty of something then why should you be on any database. I believe if you have been found guilty of a crime, then your right to have human rights should be withdrawn, and you should suffer the consequences...

    The police these days are relying far too much on DNA to solve crime. It’s far from perfect and has many holes in the way samples are tested and compared that a guilty person can go free and even worse, a innocent person goes to the gallows... gross miscarriages of justice would take place just because the person on data input had a bit of a heavy weekend on the apple juice and enters some data incorrectly.... the database cannot tell lies can it?

    I think I just decided which way to go.... let’s get the placards out “DNA database NO NO NO” this has to be stopped NOW

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Particularly not the Human variety - but I suspect ALL rights - are not something anyone whatsoever has any jurisdiction over. Anyone who acts like they do is attempting to bully/intimidate and showing their true colours.

      Otherwise, I agree!

  14. MinionZero

    (c) Me

    I consider my own DNA copyright, and I don't assign that copyright to anyone, for any reason. Therefore by copying my code, they are in violation of my copyright. In which case, every law they bring in to protect against piracy applies against government plans to steal and exploit our DNA.


    As they want to keep creating ever more Big Brother laws, then its time to use their own laws against them. ;)

    If they complain, then thats the signal to move to phase 2, which is to also invoke their Regulation of Investigatory Powers act to spy on their communications of our DNA. ;)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      My thought was more on the lines of property, the taking of which if actually justified is one thing, but the retaining it once one is cleared reclassifies it as theft.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    No smoke without fire

    @ACs 9-Dec 13:06 & 13:32

    Yes, but the trouble is that in Plod's mind, all that {a .. e} have demonstrated is their lack of involvement _in that particular crime_. And statistically, someone who comes to Plod's attention once is more likely to do so again in future than is some randomly-chosen man in the street, and, reasons Plod, if there's a next time they may not be so innocent - so keeping the DNA profile on record for a while is - to Plod - simply good sense. And because anyone whose presence in the vicinity was really, truely, scout's honour genuinely coincidental isn't all _that_ likely to come under suspicion again before their profile is erased[*], Plod and his in-house lobbyists at the Home Office will say "the innocent have little to fear" - and probably even believe what they're saying.

    That the retention of DNA profiles of individuals who have not been charged with any crime drives a coach and horses over the common-law presumption of innocence until proven guilty is, I'm afraid, a concept that now has little weight or relevance in the day-to-day work of security services and Home Office administrators, if, indeed, it ever had. A strong Home Secretary with a clear grasp of his duties can reign in the innate authoritarianism of his bailiwick for a while; unfortunately most occupants of the office in the last few decades (honourable exception imho: the late Roy Jenkins) have been naturally predisposed to be illiberal or have rapidly "gone native" after appointment.

    It's a poor reflection of the rule of law in contemporary England that it's being left to an international body to try and inject some understanding of basic principles of justice into our would-be lords and masters.

    [*]Well, at least until Plod & Co. have agitated to extend the retention period so that it eventually becomes to all intents and purposes indefinite.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      I like traffic lights

      "And statistically, someone who comes to Plod's attention once is more likely to do so again in future than is some randomly-chosen man in the street"

      That's because of the treatment they get at the hands of the Police I expect.

      There's nothing like being treated like a criminal to turn a law-abiding citizen into one.

  16. Paul Thomas 1


    I recall a Greg Bear book where he came up with the idea of a controlling agency that has access to all the digital information, phone records, credit cards etc. which had panels composed of members of the public and if the police wanted to track someone they had to apply to the agency and state their case. The agency would then decide how much information the police were allowed to have so there was proportionality in the information released.

    We seem to have skipped the control phase and just handed everything over to the authorities to use as they please.

  17. Martin 6 Silver badge

    Council of Europe

    You know it's looking bad when your police are being lectured on human rights by a group that includes Russia and Serbia as members!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't Panic

    All they have to do is ignore all this "human rights" nonsense for a little longer and it'll be someone else's problem.

  19. ShaggyDoggy


    Do you really think they will erase it ?

    Or simply "put it beyond use"

    To be later retrieved from "backup"

    Place your bets

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