Special Reports
Britain has world's largest DNA database and it keeps growing
By K�llia Ramares
Online Journal Associate Editor

Dec 3, 2007, 01:45

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." --Benjamin Franklin

The following is a transcript of a chilling radio story filed from London by Naomi Fowler of Free Speech Radio News. She has graciously allowed me to spread the story and I hope others will take it up. This is an egregious example of the police state strengthening its grip in the name of providing more security. They get away with it because the people encourage them. Stop it.

Intro: 'British police now hold the highest number per capita of DNA than any other police force in the world. But the rapid growth and the disproportionate inclusion of certain groups in the database is coming under fire. From London, Naomi Fowler reports:'

Naomi: 'The UK National Criminal Intelligence DNA Database was first set up in 1995. Since then, police powers to take and store DNA samples have been extended many times by the British government. Police are now able to take DNA samples -- without consent -- from anyone arrested on suspicion of an offence which can be punished by imprisonment. That�s regardless of whether they are later charged or convicted. According to DNA database pioneer Professor Alec Jeffreys, it's all gone far beyond what was originally intended:'

Jeffreys: 'When the DNA database was initially established it was to database DNA from criminals such if they re-offended they could be picked up. The real concern I have is what I see as a sort of mission creep. For example there are now hundreds of thousands of entirely innocent people now populating that database. I think there are very substantial and significant ethical issues.'

Naomi: 'The database is growing at a rate of 30,000 samples a month. One hundred thousand juveniles who have never been cautioned, charged or convicted of a crime now have their DNA stored forever on the national database, as well as around a million adults. Just as worrying is the fact that 77 percent of young black males population of England and Wales are now on the database. That tallies neatly with the statistic that black people are six times more likely than white people to be stopped and searched by the police. Criminologist Ben Bowling:'

Pf Bowling: 'The fact that such a high proportion of young black males are on the database is a reflection of the police targeting of young black people for stop and search and for arrest. These aren't people who've been convicted of a crime, the majority of them won't even have been prosecuted for a crime. We are creating effectively a national DNA database for the black population and so what we're actually producing is literally a genetic profile of the people who are seen as suspects by the police.'

Naomi: 'For some the answer to such obvious disproportionality and discrimination is to extend the database still further and make the collection of DNA samples compulsory for all citizens, residents and visitors to the UK. Judge Lord Justice Sedley recently called for such a 'solution:'

Justice Sedley: 'Going backwards would be a disaster; going forwards has very serious but I think manageable implications; it means that everybody, guilty or innocent should expect their DNA to be on file for the absolutely rigorously restricted purpose of crime detection and prevention. If you're going to have a database like this it has to be universal, otherwise you've got a category that slips through the net.'

Naomi: 'Others argue that useful DNA samples are collected at less than 1 percent of crime scenes and their role in solving crime is overhyped. The government recently proposed a further expansion of DNA collection, including plans to allow the taking of DNA for minor offences such as dropping litter or parking offences. The Human Genetics Commission is to hold an inquiry into the issue and will report back in 2008. This is Naomi Fowler in London for Free Speech Radio News.'

K�llia Ramares� website is Radio Internet Story Exchange. She can be contacted at kellia@rise4news.net.

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