UK's DNA Database Shame

There’s an interesting discussion going on at the Radio 4 PM Blog about the impact of the new stop and question powers that the government want to bring in. My concern is particularly on the impact that it will have on the DNA database and I see I am not the only Lib Dem concerned about this today.

If one assumes that the purpose of new stop and questioning powers is to identify, arrest and convict more potential terrorists or just 'ordinary' criminals, then the police will be able to take more DNA and put them on the DNA database.
Some DNA database facts from Lynne Featherstone’s blog:
· 25% of the people on the database innocent of any crime
· In London, 57% of the innocent people on the database are in fact non-white.
· A third of all the black population in England & Wales is already on the database.

And now, Lib Dem Research suggests that in 3 years half of all black men will be on the database whether they have been convicted of a crime or not.

As I've blogged before, the DNA database is racially skewed, to mirror a racial skew in the police’s stop and search/questioning policy. This will eventually mean that an even higher proportion of convicted people are non-white (hence the Lib Dem researched projections).

The obvious inability to identify potential terrorist subjects by sight and therefore the need to use crude indicators based on colour of skin, or length of beard or dress underlines why these things are so pernicious. A leap is made from appearance to behaviour and then, in the UK, it gets hard coded into data on databases.

I consider myself very fortunate to be living in Britain and I love my home, the country and the city I live in but when I think about how we as a nation are the world leaders in compiling databases on our citizens such as the DNA database I hang my head in shame.

"Those who would give up an essential liberty for temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security." (Benjamin Franklin)

2 comments:

Mark Pack said...
29 May 2007, 20:19:00

There's a Lib Dem petition and campaign on this subject you can support at http://campaigns.libdems.org.uk/dna

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