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One rule for MPs?

Laura Kuenssberg | 21:38 UK time, Wednesday, 19 August 2009

You may remember the arrest of Damian Green, the shadow immigration minister, as part of an investigation into leaks from the Home Office.

Well although he was never charged with anything, like many thousands of others in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, his DNA details were kept by the police. Tonight he's told the BBC that his details are to be erased, after appeals from his solicitor.

green226_getty.jpgYet for many others, never convicted of a crime, having your personal profile removed from the giant DNA database proves nearly impossible.

We've spoken to someone whose 18-month legal battle to get his name removed has so far failed, for tonight's Ten O'Clock News.

Mr Green is now calling for other records to be expunged and says, if in government, the Conservatives would follow the model of Scotland.

There, out of those arrested but not convicted, only those questioned about sexual or violent offences have their DNA stored.

The Home Office has already been told by the European Court that keeping the DNA of anyone who is arrested indefinitely is illegal. That was back in December. But despite a consultation on what to do next, don't expect any changes in the guidelines soon.

A letter passed to me, written to chief constables by the Association of Chief Police Officers, says the new guidelines won't come into effect until 2010.

So in the meantime, they've been told to carry on as normal.

As the Home Office told me, clearly, DNA can be a critical tool for detectives. But after Damian Green's experience, the Conservatives aren't likely to let this drop.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    I know I ought to be extremely worried about the DNA database ... the possible misuse thereof ... but I find that, compared to the prospect of a Tory landslide in just a few months from now, I'm only a little bit worried

  • Comment number 2.

    This article really does stand out for it's quite understandable priority over other issues. DNA data bases are so very much more important than a debate on Afghanistan.

  • Comment number 3.

    Unfortunately, the illegal DNA database just goes to show that Labour really can't be trusted with our liberties. And I hate to say it, having grown up in poverty and having been elated in 1997. I just wish there were a better option that the now-inevitable Tory landslide next year…

    (And, to oldrightie, we can be concerned about more than one political issue at once, even in silly season. You're right, a debate on Afghanistan is indeed very important, but so is protecting the liberties our soldiers are out there supposedly securing.)

  • Comment number 4.

    Another great scoop, Laura. Thanks again for telling your blog fans about it first!

    Labour's utter contempt for our historical presumption of innocence is vile, vile, vile!

  • Comment number 5.

    It is the general issue of personal data kept by the state of which DNA is one feature. Perhaps what needs to be addressed are the powers of the Information Commissioner to prescribe to state bodies on what data they may keep and who may access it and when it should be destroyed or erased. The right of review for each citizen would be essential if we are to avoid the creation of a totalitarian information society.

  • Comment number 6.

    2 oldrightie
    "This article really does stand out for it's quite understandable priority over other issues. DNA data bases are so very much more important than a debate on Afghanistan."
    =============================

    Exactly. And the next person who may be affeted by it could be you.

  • Comment number 7.

    Rich people who can afford expensive solicitors get treated differently from the rest of us under the law. So what's news?

  • Comment number 8.

    Come on Laura. I am with oldrightie @2 on this one.

    This story did the media rounds over a week ago. Surely there are more pressing topics than this.

    For example.

    Chief constables have been told to ignore a landmark European Court ruling and continue storing the DNA samples of innocent people.

    Second thoughts Laura, carry on. Anything that gives NuLabour a good kicking gets my vote.

    Roll On 2010 - Things can only get better.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hi Laura,

    We have missed you.
    I thought the BBC had hidden you away somewhere because we were alll getting so used to seeing some balanced reporting at last!

    I wonder what will happen to the much vaunted DNA database now that scientists claim they have the ability to "manipulate" DNA to remove evidence of one person and substitute DNA of someone else.

  • Comment number 10.

    @saga

    I've been away a while saga, when did you stop pretending to be a floating voter?

  • Comment number 11.

    Welcome back Laura. Kept checking for you, but nothing since last week. Still - two topics in one day - excellent! I agree with other posters that the topic is important - innocent people should not have entries on a DNA database.

    This is as important a topic as Afghanistan, but I'm sure you will cover that topic too in one way or another. Perhaps in one of your blogs tomorrow you could cover the Dannatt story, which brings together political treachery, expenses smears, Afghanistan and underfunding of the military.

    Then let's have another of your "insider" stories - a leak from No 10 about what Mr Brown plans to spring as a suprise at the party conference?

    Glad to have you back.



  • Comment number 12.

    If the UK government legislated in favour of collecting DNA data from every citizen, without their approval (which babies would be unable to give), would the European Court still be able to over-rule it?

    If that were possible, then what's the point of having a UK legislature? Except that a nation really isn't that unless it can at least manage the way in which its laws are formulated?

    The sad thing is that people, even children, picked up but never convicted of anything - except being in the wrong place at the wrong time - should have their DNA taken and kept with no opportunity under UK law to have it expunged from the "official records".

    "If you've done nothing wrong, you've nothing to fear" has been the New Labour mantra. So how many Labour MPs have volunteered to have their DNA and those of their family members taken and recorded?

    If every MP and member of the House of Lords agrees to have their DNA extracted, along with their spouses' and children - and agrees to intrusive CCTV cameras placed outside their homes and the homes of their children - maybe the rest of us would be a little less doubtful.

    It has recently been shown that DNA "plants" could be introduced into crime sites. How worrying is that?

  • Comment number 13.

    Not guilty of a crime? Then don't worry about the DNA database. Unless, of course, you're planning to break the law.
    After a poor anaesthetic for tooth removal a few years ago, I kicked out at (but did not touch) a security guard at a hospital who wouldn't show me where to get a drink of water. Although somewhat dazed, I managed to argue with him so he called the police. I was rightly cautioned and a DNA swab was taken.
    Am I worried? No. I have no intention of committing a crime and if I was suspected, my DNA would in fact prove me innocent, thus saving my time and that of the authorities.
    So, please keep my DNA and collect everyone elses. Also, be suspicious of those who don't want their DNA collected.
    With freedom comes responsibility, and nowdays accountability!

  • Comment number 14.

    Mr Green does not claim to be innocent of being involved in stealing government secrets. He freely admits it. His defence is that he did it the public interest. As he was never charged this defence was never accepted by a court. Had he used all other legal challenge or did he just go for a quick route through a Tory supporter to get a win over the Government. Why should a man who freely admits to stealing government secrets not have his DNA database

  • Comment number 15.

    1. At 10:20pm on 19 Aug 2009, sagamix wrote:

    I know I ought to be extremely worried about the DNA database ... the possible misuse thereof ... but I find that, compared to the prospect of a Tory landslide in just a few months from now, I'm only a little bit worried


    ----

    I'll be voting Raving Looney when/if we get an election. They're the only party we can possibly still trust.

    The Tories are just using this DNA "victory" as another "we'll do this, that and the other when we come to power" tool.

    They won't do a 10th of what they promise they'll do, in fact they'll do the same as Labour have done, make sure the rich get richer.

    I for one am sick of seeing every piece of news jumped on by MPs as a tool to use against one or another party. I'm also sick of the media reporting it as well...

  • Comment number 16.

    A couple of small points - a group of Israeli scientists have been able to recreate a DNA profile from another persons cells this week, thereby undermining the premise that it is unique.
    In addition, the underlying assumption in many lay persons minds is that DNA evidence is a fact, rather than a probability. You do not match the entire sequence, you just use a limited number of subsets, and this has resulted in recent appeals succeeding where the evidence originally used for a conviction has been shown to be faulty.

    Given the above, what are the chances that someone will end up being convicted on that basis of flawed evidence?

  • Comment number 17.

    Its no suprise to see that damiam green got his DNA revmoved from the data base considering that all MPs have buddies in the Metropolitan police. Police chiefs these days are basically hidden politicians elected by their buddies in westminster, and run by them.Remember the MPs scandal?, ive a feeling if it had of been joe public, the prosecutions would have been flying thick and fast by now, but all quiet at the MET.

  • Comment number 18.

    There is no doubt that the police would be able to catch more criminals if the database contained DNA samples from every citizen, including those who have never been arrested.

    But if we are going to take DNA from people who are totally innocent, a logical progression would be to extract samples at birth. That way, no one is missed out.

    From there, it would also make perfect sense to 'chip' people like cats and dogs. That way their movements could be logged every time they passed a sensor, probably mounted on every doorway and street corner.

    This would certainly cut down on crime and enable the State to know where anyone was at any particular moment. The technology could also help find missing children or track terrorist suspects. No doubt we would be told, if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to fear.

    But is this really the sort of world we want to live in?

    Under New Labour, it has started in earnest already.....


  • Comment number 19.

    As Mr Green doesnt appear to have any of the "exceptional circumstances" required to get off the DNA database it will be interesting to see if he used the Mark Thomas approach and threatened a judicial review.

    ACPO should be following the ruling of the ECHR not colluding with the Home Office and its twisted consultation which has as the prelude a write up about the murder of Sally Bowman (the public remember her) even though the case wasnt solved by the use of DNA retained from a previous arrest!

    Here's hoping Supajonny's DNA doesnt get matched thanks to LCN DNA testing as happened in the Omagh bombing case. As long as the Forensic Science Service uses discredited methods anyone on the database is at risk of being "matched"

  • Comment number 20.

    grawth @ 10

    gee, haven't seen you for a while! - thought you'd gone over the wire - nice to hear from you, anyway - I was floating for a short time but the spectre of a Tory landslide ... as it draws closer ... is concentrating the mind

  • Comment number 21.

    Holding the DNA fingerprint of the innocent is a little bit wrong but not that serious. I think this is the tories trying to stir up a little paranoia like the republicans Glen Beck from fox news and Derek Hannan are using against our NHS. They are pretending to be the champions in the fight for our human rights in a similar way to them being our champions in parliamentary reform. They aren't, its just electioneering and are probably not that bothered about this '1984' rubbish.

  • Comment number 22.

    # 18 (me)

    And why stop there?

    If we are chipping people to monitor their every movement, the State could bring in a law that makes it compulsory to take half an hour's exercise every day. After all, that would help cut down on obesity, heart disease and diabetes - and therefore save the tax payer money.

    Sensors could be placed inside our toilets to monitor what we have been eating. If our diet is considered unhealthy, the NHS could send you a warning text message to say you will be struck off the patient's register unless you mend your ways.

    What a great future...

  • Comment number 23.

    Fascinating!

    Nobody picked up on Laura's recognition that the Tories "would follow the model of Scotland".

    Scots Law is different - why on earth would we want to return to having it controlled by the UK Parliament (which is essentially English)?

  • Comment number 24.

    Laura:

    I think that ALL of who were cleared of criminal charges..Should have their DNA immediately taken out of the system and never allowed to be made available to the public....

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 25.

    #23 oldnat - follow the model of Scotland ! The country that conned its OAPs into having ID cards (dressed up as bus passes) before England.

    By this simple device the group the Stasi ID Card supporters most feared were conned. No chance of
    Grandpa Broon being hauled off to Barlinnie by PC Murdoch for not having an ID Card
    and the resulting stink which even the usually extremist pro law and order tabloids might kick up before reverting to form.

  • Comment number 26.

    Why would the innocent worry about a DNA database?

    Hmmmm. Why would the innocent house owners of a sea view be worried about that nice man from the council taking pictures from the front of their house?

    The government have said unreservedly it is just a database excercise. Updating records of proerty etc.

    The real issue here is do you trust a future potentially meglomanic government with details of yours that could be abused? How useful would it have been for, say for instnce Hitler, to have had a DNA database?

    It is clear that this government neither takes the issue seriously or cares, but there are two interesting questions here.

    1. Why aren't the government worried or bothered?
    2. Why isn't anyone questioning further the issue that an opposition MP has been arrested in the first place for finding something that was embarrasing to the government and that the outcome has just whispered away to nothing?

    I have no doubt that DNA testing is useful. But it is invasive and open to abuse.

    I hope there is a Tory landslide next year, because God help us all if this lot get back in.

  • Comment number 27.

    The collection of DNA evidence from suspects would only be justifiable if the motives of those who were to use it at any time in the future were beyond reproach.

    Unfortunately, since this isn't even possible, combined with the fact that the motives of this government are invariably sinister, it follows that the DNA database is morally wrong in principle.

    In an idealistic world where all of us are pulling in the same direction, maybe. In the real world, no.

    Would anyone feel comfortable, say, if the government said it wanted to keep samples of your blood, sperm, eggs, bone marrow etc on file, just for their "database"? For "information purposes"?

  • Comment number 28.

    13: "I was rightly cautioned and a DNA swab was taken.
    Am I worried? No. I have no intention of committing a crime and if I was suspected, my DNA would in fact prove me innocent, thus saving my time and that of the authorities."

    The big flaw with this line of thinking is assuming all future governments will be benign. What is a "crime"? Something that the government and the judicial system decides - not what you yourself decide it is.

    By logical extension everyone should be chipped at birth and continually monitored (to be stored in a database and the tracking only used when/if needed). It would save the authorities so much time in solving crimes and nobody could claim that they were being discriminated against. Much better than DNA as evidence would be available on your location BEFORE the crime was committed, not as evidence gathered afterwards. Would you like to live in such a world? I wouldn't!

  • Comment number 29.

    Can someone tell me why the police are not prosecuting themselves for breaking the law by continuing to hold this data?

  • Comment number 30.

    "There, out of those arrested but not convicted, only those questioned about sexual or violent offences have their DNA stored."

    So that's pretty much everyone then. The police tend to use violence themselves, are they on the DNA database? I don't think so.

  • Comment number 31.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 32.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 33.

    Yes MP's are getting preferential police and tax treatment.

    NO mp has been arrested or had their income tax investigated dispite wrongly claiming some of the Additional Costs Allowances as solely and completely used in line with their work as an mp.

    MP's have a seperate section in their tax returns, with in it is a sub section where they are asked to fill in the total amount of ACA (second homes) they received from the fees office. They are then asked what amount of that figure was NOT wholey and exclusivily used for their work as an MP. They are then asked to sign a seperate declariation clearly worded decleration covering the two figures.

    In the guidance note it mentions that even if the frees office make a payment under ACA's it is up to the MP to declare things that are not solely and wholey used for their work as an MP.

    SO for example if an MP gets paid ACA for fixing dry rot in their partners house, or buys a set of patio furniture and BBQ, or plants several hundred trees, or puts fake tudor beams on the front of their house or even lets there son or daughter live rent free in their second home, despite any agreementr with the fees office they MUST declare it and pay tax on the amounts in question on their TAX returns.

    NO MP has been investigated yet! so YES MPS appear to be above the TAX Laws and allowed to make false declerations on their TAX returns!

  • Comment number 34.

    ". At 06:51am on 20 Aug 2009, sircomespect wrote:
    Why would the innocent worry about a DNA database?

    Hmmmm. Why would the innocent house owners of a sea view be worried about that nice man from the council taking pictures from the front of their house?

    The government have said unreservedly it is just a database excercise. Updating records of proerty etc."

    sircomespect that nice council man taking the pictures actually has the right to ring on your door bell and demand entry so he can take photo in the house. Their is an on the spot fine and its a criminal offence to shut the door in his face.

    In fact that this NuLabour goverment has granted several hundred types of officials, goverment and private bodys the right of entry into every house in the country and a lot of them do not even need the police present or a court order (like the council man assessing you house and its worderful view and access to the local golf course).

  • Comment number 35.

    "13. At 11:40pm on 19 Aug 2009, supaJohnny wrote:
    Not guilty of a crime? Then don't worry about the DNA database. Unless, of course, you're planning to break the law.
    After a poor anaesthetic for tooth removal a few years ago, I kicked out at (but did not touch) a security guard at a hospital who wouldn't show me where to get a drink of water. Although somewhat dazed, I managed to argue with him so he called the police. I was rightly cautioned and a DNA swab was taken.
    Am I worried? No. I have no intention of committing a crime and if I was suspected, my DNA would in fact prove me innocent, thus saving my time and that of the authorities.
    So, please keep my DNA and collect everyone elses. Also, be suspicious of those who don't want their DNA collected."

    So you travel by train to work one morning, some one else sits on the same chair and a couple of your hairs stick to their jumper, they break into a house, one of your hairs ends up caught in the broken glass, the other drops off in the bedroom. They are the ONLY evidance but clearly show that not only you were there but it was you that climed thru the window. The police arrest you, now its up to you to proove you were not there dispite the overwhelming infalable DNA evidance.

    All this was acidential, its not hard to imagine a criminal deliberatly seeding a crime with a 3rd parties dna!

  • Comment number 36.

    My, my we are touchy this morning arent we, Mr/Ms Moderator?

    Not allowed to call someone a Voting Floater, not allowed to question the probity and political indipendance of the Metropolitan police...

    Remember, you're there to moderate NOT to Censor.

    I decide what I put my name to and I bear the consequences of it. Its not up to you to censor me.

    Or should we cut out the middle man and just take this straight to the BBC Trust now? Is this blog only open to people who think the same as you?

  • Comment number 37.

    DNA is important but the issue is wider than that. It is the whole issue of people who have been arrested but not convicted or even charged.

    11 million jobs in this country require an enhanced CRB check. This will turn up not only things they were convicted of (decades ago) but also things they were never even charged with (decades ago). People can be excluded for life without ever being convicted in a court of law.

    I've discussed this on the internet with people like US police officers who are in favour of the electric chair and carry an M16 at work: not exactly softy liberals. They are amazed that a 'back ground check' should report things which a person was not found guilty of. Presumption of innocence: if you have not been convicted then you are innocent.

    The whole issue criminal records for people who have never been convicted - not just DNA - needs to be reviewed.

  • Comment number 38.

    One of the driving factors behind the growth of this database and the introduction of ID cards is that those involved in setting it/us all up are going to make a lot of money out of it.

  • Comment number 39.

    I refer to Patrick Cormac's reported comments about doubling MP's salaries - to make it easier and transparent for the MP's expenses system - why has no one noticed this would also double his final salary pension and he and a whole bunch more of long term high pension reeciving MP's are about to retire. They would also get a further years salary as golden goodbye at a doubled rate. What an own goal.
    This would be a further example of how MP's consider themselves different to the general public and arrogant and self centred in extremis.

  • Comment number 40.

    Quite right, Saga. You are seeing some sense now. All will be saved under the Tory government. Shame some stupid people voted this ghastly lot in but they will be gone soon, in a poooooooof of smoke.

  • Comment number 41.

    "sagamix wrote:
    I know I ought to be extremely worried about the DNA database ... the possible misuse thereof ... but I find that, compared to the prospect of a Tory landslide in just a few months from now, I'm only a little bit worried"

    I also find the thought of a Tory landslide worrying, look what happened the last time a party got into power with a landslide. Rather then use their huge majority to actually make changes for the good of the people they instead used it to force through laws (some of which were against the wishes of the majority of people).

    For a government to work properly it needs a strong counter balance - the threat of losing votes in the house. Luckily the Tory party seem to want to make the election a close thing because we have senior Tories coming out with stupid comments (comments about MPs pay being too low, the NHS - yes we all know it is critically flawed system but don't admit it publicly) when all they really need to do to win is keep their mouths shut.

  • Comment number 42.

    The whole, guilty until proven innocent that has sprung up over the last few years (under the guise of fighting terrorism) has resulted in a loss of liberty that few understand. I'm not saying we should go easy on crimminals (IMHO sentences should be longer for many crimes e.g. murder) but innocent people who may simply have been in the wrong place at the wrong time are NOT crimminals. Given the government's record on personal data loss, the safety of this data base must be called into question. Maybe when a sample of Gordon Brown's DNA becomes available on E-Bay for 37p to be planted at the crime scene of your choosing, then the Government will reallise that it is a bad idea.

  • Comment number 43.

    =================

    14. At 11:41pm on 19 Aug 2009, tonygilmore wrote:

    .....Why should a man who freely admits to stealing government secrets not have his DNA database

    =================

    If I recall, the (embarrassing) information was leaked to the relevant opposition minister so as the government could be asked questions on those subjects.

    The use of the word stealing smacks of someone trying to spin....

    However if you do believe in what you wrote, then back in the early 90's Gordon Brown was the recipient of similar embarrassing leaks. Would you say that he stole those - and as such should Gordon Brown have his DNA added to the database?

    Sigh...

  • Comment number 44.

    Before DNA became the new tool, fingerprints were retained (probably still are) of all convicted criminals. The fingerprints of those acquitted at court, never mind those never charged, were destroyed, and you could request that you witnessed their destruction. Why should DNA, which is far more intrusive and open to abuse, be treated any differently?

    This trend to ignore civil liberty in the pursuit of some mythical secure and crime-free land is both Orwellian and highly corrosive. It needs to be reversed and quickly.

    Incidentally oldnat,#23

    unless I am mistaken (and I could be) Scotland also holds the DNA of unconvicted people on the database, it just draws the line more tightly in respect of the nature of the "suspected" offence. I wouldn't get too smug if I were you, once a principle is breached . . . . .

  • Comment number 45.

    Hardly a scoop, the news that at some time in the future a criminal might get caught because the naughty police kept his DNA on record. Surely in a week when casualties in Afghanistan topped 200 and the benefits army topped 6 million you could just possibly have found something more topical to write about, or, is critcism of the government a no go area in your brief ?

  • Comment number 46.

    Hi Laura

    Thanks for this post on an important issue. I have always felt that the system for taking DNA from innocent people has been very wrong. When they are proven innocent it should be destroyed. In a way the keeping of your DNA could then be a punishment for being convicted of an offence perhaps.

    Labour have behaved shamefully on this issue.... And letting off a fellow MP only reinforces the view that its one rule for our leaders and one rule for the rest of us. I hope Damian Green continues with his campaign which I suspect will be proved popular.

  • Comment number 47.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 48.

    whats the harm in every person having their DNA collected and held if you have nothing to hide then whats the worry, but if your an illegal immigrant or an offender that has gotten away with their crime i can see the fear.
    this story is typical of society today those with money or with friendly officials seem to get what they want and the rest just suffers, this goes beyond party politics and is deep rooted in society.
    is this story just the new tip of another corrupt government/opposition media feeding frenzy.
    may be it is time for a change of government and media mind set, sadly nothing will change so let the suffering continue.

  • Comment number 49.

    "supaJohnny wrote:

    So, please keep my DNA and collect everyone elses. Also, be suspicious of those who don't want their DNA collected."

    Considering how easily it is for the fingerprints and DNA of innocent people to be found at a crime scene I would be very worried even though I have nothing to hide. A possible example which I have heard used - you are shopping at a supermarket for a bottle of wine and pick up one which is later used in a stabbing your DNA and fingerprints could be all over the murder weapon. I admit it is unlikely to happen but DNA gets left everywhere we go and even places you haven't been if you consider secondary transfer (you brush against someone and they can pick up lose hairs from you).

    Personally I find the thought of DNA evidence very scary

  • Comment number 50.

    How many innocent people will be convicted on the strength of "unquestionable DNA evidence" with the help of planted DNA samples? How would the forensic people be able to tell the difference between planted DNA and "scene of crime" DNA?

    Trouble is the police will fight to keep it in the mix as it gives them a much better chance of conviction.

  • Comment number 51.

    "oldnat wrote:
    Fascinating!

    Nobody picked up on Laura's recognition that the Tories "would follow the model of Scotland".

    Scots Law is different - why on earth would we want to return to having it controlled by the UK Parliament (which is essentially English)?"

    How did you get from Laura's comment that the Tories "would follow the model of Scotland" to your conclusion that the Tories would change Scots law to be more in line with the UK? If anything the conclusion I drew was that the Tories think Scotland has a better system and were looking to change UK law to reflect that.

  • Comment number 52.

    Keeping details of innocent people is plainly wrong. If a person has been convited of a crime without any doubt then fine, but if a person has been cleared of any wrongdoing ALL details DNA or otherwise should be immedietly removed.

    I have a friend who was about 5 years ago accused by his then girlfriend ( he had ended their relationship) of attacking her, she called the police he protested that he had not attacked her at all, the officer arrested him, the CPS decided to charge him with common assault ( there was a big drive to get domestic violence figures up) it went to court the 3 magistrates found him not guilty and even criticised the police for wasting time on a case with absolutely no evidence ( they didn't even take pictures of the alledged bruises she had) and also criticsed the CPS ... The magistrates ( 3 women i hasten to add) last words to my friend were " you leave this court without a stain on your character "

    Forward on 5 years and my friend applies for a job with the local council working with parents, he had to have an enhanced CRB check (which he was fine about ) it indicated when it came back that he had been arrested and charged ... He was furious obviously about this showing up ... his job offer was declined

    If innocent or found to be innocent people have this data showing up to prospective employers then it is CLEARLY WRONG and it is almost like then having to be put through the whole thing again only this time your employers act as judge and jury

  • Comment number 53.

    A level results - more people gaining A-C grades under Labour? Why? Simple, more people allowed into the country swells the population of young (and old) people.

  • Comment number 54.

    Laura:

    Knowing that you read the contributions to the blog, do you have anything on the ongoing saga of Kevan Jones briefing against Gen Dannatt and the SofS for Defence weighing in to the argument saying he told Jones not to do it?

    Considering how much attention it is getting not only in the MSM, but also globally online and that it is on the news page, can you give us your take on it?

    Thanks!

  • Comment number 55.

    There are several issues about a DNA database that are difficult. Sure, it's a useful tool to solve crime, but it's also invasive. And perhaps we're relying on DNA evidence just a little too much ? Drink a cup of coffee at a murder scene and then leave 5 minutes before that murder happens - your DNA is on the cup - you're "guilty" with one hell of a job trying to prove your innocence.
    I don't believe that the authorities will destroy any DNA records - they may say they will - but I wouldn't believe them. And as the database grows, it will only be a matter of time before selfish prospective employers and greedy insurance firms will be clamouring for access to it, to determine employability and insurability on health and genetic grounds. From there, you're only one step away from requiring "acceptable" DNA matches before a marriage is "approved". Welcome to the Fourth Reich. Caledonian Comment

  • Comment number 56.

    47#

    I see the censor with whom I appear to have been crossing swords has returned from mid-morning tea break....

    To this particular moderator: Would you care to send me an email to the registered address telling me what particular house rule I have broken this time? As per your own house rules?

    Apart from "thou shalt not censure the incumbent government"?

    And I trust when you do send an email to the registered email address that you will leave your name on it as well so that when I denounce you to the BBC Trust that I can at least do you the honour of identifying you correctly?

    Thank you so much.

  • Comment number 57.

    Wonder what they'd find if they took Gordon Brown's DNA.
    Apparently, that funny thing that he does with his mouth is thought to be linked to a mitochondrial DNA abnormality (or Mitochondrial Oxidative Phosphorylation Disorder to use the vernacular).
    More info http://moralorder.mediumisthemess.com/blog Let's hope that they keep the DNA samples separate. Otherwise his might try to spread.

  • Comment number 58.

    #51 Mark_WE

    "UK Law"? Ain't no such thing.

  • Comment number 59.

    There is an argument for having everyone in the country on the database. There is an argument for having those convicted of a criminal offence on the database. What is idefensible is the current situation of having convicts, plus a smattering of innocent people. The Damien Green situation makes it even more illogical. Now it's those found innocent of any offence... who aren't famous or powerful!

  • Comment number 60.

    I notice some people are saying if you are not up to criminality then why fear being on the DNA database?

    The reason is simple: it's not just the DNA they are keeping.

    It is also a criminal record.

    Nearly 1 in 5 jobs now requires vetting - anything with children, anything in health, anything at an airport, taxi driver, church bell ringer (!) etc etc.

    You work in IT, doesn't effect you? Wait until your firm gets a contract with a school, hospital, prison - then you will need a check, and your employer will find out about what you did (or didn't do) 20 years ago.

    Want to volunteer to drive the age-concern minibus? Want to adopt a child? Want to have your childs french exchange student in your house for a month?

    All the above and more will involve checks which will show up something you DID NOT DO 10-20-30 years ago.

    This is the damaging bit - and mr tory MP needs to understand that although his DNA has been deleted, his PNC record has not. Interesting to see what will happen if he needs "developed vetting" for a security clearance in the future.


  • Comment number 61.

    I've just thought of something which on first reading had passed me by...

    What on earth has it to do with ACPO??? Were they part of the consultative process (if there was one) or part of the EU Court decision?

    Whoever wins the next election must rid us of this dreadful, unaccountable talking shop. Funny how ACPO's existence parallels the downward spiral of confidence that the public have in the police in the UK...

  • Comment number 62.

    Maintaining a large database is very expensive if it is to be really useful. There is not much point having someone's DNA in a database if you do not also have up to date information on how to trace them. Maintaining this information for a large database would absorb enormous resources. Perhaps it is those who are hoping to profit from contracts for this work, who are feeding our naive government with the idea that this is worth doing.

    Instead of swamping the database with details of people who are never likely to commit serious crime, it would be much better to concentrate on those most likely to offend. Even for those convicted of minor crime, consideration should be given to whether or not there is a significant likelyhood of them ever re-offending.

  • Comment number 63.

    I do not think even the Scottish system is as straight forward as is being claimed.

    Scotland not long ago, I thought, had considered keeping DNA permanently from people innocent or not. This was indeed rejected by the Scottish Parliament. However I understood that DNA profiles will be kept for 5 years from people prosecuted for violent or sexual offences in Scotland even if the case is dropped or they are acquited. 5 years is a long time if you are innocent and it stops you getting a job.

    I also thought that the DNA base in Scotland provided profiles from people arrested in Scotland to the National Data base in England, thus many are kept permanently anyway.

  • Comment number 64.

    Anyone keen on the idea of retaining either DNA or fingerprints under the " nothing to hide " banner should study the case of one Scottish PC called Shirley McKie.
    Not to mention the various lost computers by Government ministers and staff containing among other things, the personal info on armed forces personnel.

    My DNA is safer in my keeping.

  • Comment number 65.

    "Mr Green is now calling for other records to be expunged and says, if in government, the Conservatives would follow the model of Scotland.

    There, out of those arrested but not convicted, only those questioned about sexual or violent offences have their DNA stored."

    I'm baffled by this. If you are innocent, you are innocent. If didn't do a sexual or violent crime are you somehow less innocent than if you didn't do a different crime?

  • Comment number 66.

    The DNA saga, confirms for me, something that I have suspected for many years. The Government is attempting to achieve Policing on the cheap.
    At first Police Community Service Officers were strictly defined as such. Now they are blithly referred to as Police Officers and it is only through sight at the scene or TV that the difference can be spotted.
    I read, on line yesterday that there is a shortfall of 5,000 Detectives, in the UK, the cause, money spent on recruiting P.C.S.Os.
    When serious crimes are reported on radio or tv., the piece almost inevitably ends with a request for witnesses. We pay large amounts in Council Tax, where are those funds going? When our bill arrives in March each year, the Police precept is announced, how often does that apply 6 months later?
    I, with others, tried to report a suspected crime, 18 months or so ago, the response, 'It is a civil matter', strangely enough this never appears to be the case in motoring allegations.
    Many years ago I was taught that Policing in England and Wales was always "with consent", I see that consent being gradually withdrawn. So much with Policing on the cheap, this Government is pursuing policies that will cost us an arm and a leg, hence, amoung other things DNA retention.


  • Comment number 67.

    #28 johnbyng

    "By logical extension everyone should be chipped at birth and continually monitored (to be stored in a database and the tracking only used when/if needed). It would save the authorities so much time in solving crimes and nobody could claim that they were being discriminated against."

    Yes, this is exactly the point! (see me at #18 and #22)

    Once we take a view that it is acceptable for the State to keep records of all innocent civilians just in case they break the law at some point in the future, it is only a very short step to round-the-clock surveillance of every individual.

    Every so-called benefit comes at a price. Do we want a society where there is less crime? Most people would say yes. Do we want a society where everyone is treated as a potential criminal, with the state carrying out 24 hour surveillance of every citizen, monitoring our every move, phone call, email and text message - just in case? Most people would say no! That's not the kind of society we want.

    And who is to say that this power would be correctly used by a benign government? We should be very alarmed that people can be 'detained' under anti-terrorism legislation for heckling at a Labour party conference, or arrested for using a camera in a public place. Even local councils can now spy on us, thanks to New Labour's Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA).

    Under New Labour we have sleepwalked into Surveillance Britain.

  • Comment number 68.

    Why not just implant everyone with a GPS chip? As many in the community will say "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear". Think of all the crimes that would be solved or prevented in the Government knew where you were 24/7. It would be even better if the chip could also record sound. I'm sure the Government would introduce safeguards such as promising not to abuse their power and who would disbelieve them, as anti-terrorist laws are now being used to keep a watch on dagerous activities such as trying to get your kid into a good school or putting the wrong bit of rubbish in the wrong coloured bin.

    We are all safer because of this, why are people moaning?

    And yes, I'm being sarcastic.

  • Comment number 69.

    Any idea if a company is breaking the rules if they are being paid by the taxpayer from community interest company (CIC) funding but your duties as working for the CIC being producing work for the LTD sister company? I'm just an intern here so inexperienced - not sure if its something I should report, sorry for asking here - cleverest people i know! If its not allowed could you suggest a way of reporting this?

  • Comment number 70.

    Whilst on the face of it keeping profiles on suspects seems to be taking away our freedoms in some ways. I wonder if in time it can prevent murders such as in Soham. After all Ian Huntly had been convicted of no crime and yet he had been suspected of sexual offenses and burglary, there was just not enough evidence to convict him. He was passed to work at a school, would we really want to see this situation again.

    Also in the case of baby P if there had been more information available to the Police on the people this child was living with, would the result have been different.

    There has also been some discussion on keeping profiles on children who offend badly, in the hope that those that grow to conmmit really bad crime can be identified early.

    On the same point however I do not entirely trust the Police these days. Recent events have made me wonder about just how impartial and trustworthy they are.

    This is a very difficult question to answer, freedom for the innocent individual or identification of those who may harm our society with the hope the information stored is used wisely.

  • Comment number 71.

    The issues around DNA records don't worry me half as much as the next Tory government. The so called libertarians David Davis and Damian Green will surely get dumped by Cameron. The other thing that amazes me is that if a European institution suggests that fruit should be graded against certain standards the jingoistic cry of "don't tell us what to do goes up", when the European court, tells the Govenment of britain what it is doing is illegal under european law, everybody hails it as a victory over the government.

  • Comment number 72.

    The government and police are throwing away the good will of the general public that they need to survive. Once the majority stop believing in the system then we are up a certain creek without a certain implement.

  • Comment number 73.

    So, Gordon cant be bothered to turn up to the opening of a new facility for injured soldiers local to his holiday venue, but he can turn up to this...

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/8211313.stm

    Comeon, roll on 2010....

  • Comment number 74.

    It takes at least two to play.

    As a MP, if Damian Green believe it is wrong to keep the DNA of the innocent, then why does he not fight for all innocent people. Do for others as he would have it done for him.

    If the Home Office believe it is right to retain the DNA records of the innocent, then why make an exception for Damian Green?

    It is either discrimination or favouritism.

    Examples, examples, examples.

  • Comment number 75.

    To all those who say "if you don't intend to commit a crime, why worry about the database":

    The possibility of leaving your DNA at a crime scene unconnected with the crime could be the least of your worries. What about the other people in the UK (possibly hundreds) whose DNA is close enough to yours to give a match? If one of those commits (say) a rape, and the DNA evidence collected matches yours (and theirs isn't on the database), you'd better be sure you've got a watertight alibi.

    This, unfortunately, is a very good reason for collecting absolutely everyone's DNA - not that I really want us to be going down that route (or the chipping one, either - though that could solve your alibi problem).

  • Comment number 76.

    71#

    Because your lot, Mr Not Fooled Steve, were indeed fooled into signing us up to the whole shooting match and handing back our rebate without any quid pro quo return for what we gave up, let alone the referenda on the constitution that YOUR government and YOUR prime minister promised us, even had in your election manifesto in 2005.

    Therefore, when the hand that you have fed them with turns round and bites you, then yes, it does tend to cheer us up a bit. NL think that they can get away with anything, anywhere.

    Nice to see that sometimes they cant.

    Back under your stone, astroturfer....

  • Comment number 77.

    #13 Dear supaJohnny, a more criminally minded person than myself (MCMPTM) could probably (in the space of minutes) find out who you are and where you live. You know the kind, the ones not likely to leave any trace themselves. A rummage through your bins would yield plenty of your DNA. A liberal sprinkling of said DNA (along with say 20 other peoples) at MCMPTM's next crime scene, not only obscures MCMPTM's prescence but puts you and the other 20, bang in the frame. I hope you have an alibi for MCMPTM's next crime spree, and the one after that because the chances of it not being you(statistically)are reducing all the time. Still got nothing to fear? How about the one after that? 3 crime scenes with your DNA at each one, what are the odds? And I don't even know you, how much more pleasureable it would be if I did know you and didn't like you?

  • Comment number 78.

    Poster 67 saved me the time to say what I needed. It is absolutely right that we are all innocent until proven guilty. I need to prove nothing, it is the job of the prosecutor to prove my guilt, not the other way round.
    People are being naive in the extreme if they believe the so-called safeguards alledgedly in place. Using the terrorism act to prevent dog fouling and school catchment is way way a step too far and is a logical step for the control freaks.
    My right to not suffer crime would be far greater served by giving me the power to defend myself effectively but obviously I cannot be trusted by nanny state so they charge me gross amounts to fail on my behalf.

    Make it a manifesto commitment to remove the innocent from the database and I can guarantee a lot of votes. The police should have to work for a conviction, not take the easy and lazy option of sitting around staring at a screen until a DNA match is found. Anyone would think that no crime was ever solved until DNA was discovered.

  • Comment number 79.

    #65:

    Excellent point. It used to be a fundamental principle of British justice that you were innocent until proven guilty. I find it extremely worrying that the government are quietly chipping away at the edges of that. It could end in all sorts of nasty places.

    I also find it deeply distasteful, although not in the slightest bit surprising, that MPs are treated differently to the rest of us.

    Can't wait for the next election.

  • Comment number 80.

    70. At 12:52pm on 20 Aug 2009, Susan-Croft wrote:
    Whilst on the face of it keeping profiles on suspects seems to be taking away our freedoms in some ways. I wonder if in time it can prevent murders such as in Soham. After all Ian Huntly had been convicted of no crime and yet he had been suspected of sexual offenses and burglary, there was just not enough evidence to convict him. He was passed to work at a school, would we really want to see this situation again.

    Also in the case of baby P if there had been more information available to the Police on the people this child was living with, would the result have been different.

    There has also been some discussion on keeping profiles on children who offend badly, in the hope that those that grow to conmmit really bad crime can be identified early.

    On the same point however I do not entirely trust the Police these days. Recent events have made me wonder about just how impartial and trustworthy they are.

    This is a very difficult question to answer, freedom for the innocent individual or identification of those who may harm our society with the hope the information stored is used wisely.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    Thing is Susan, as per my previous post, do you think my friend who had been cleared of any offense or wrongdoing ... Still have his details recorded and then passed on when a CRB check is done ?

  • Comment number 81.

    I just don't like any government believing that "the citizens" are only there to serve the state. A complete distortion. A government should be there to serve the people.

    It's obviously "convenient" if everybody is chipped, has all biological and social data held on "secure" databases, so the organs of government can "tap in" whenever they like. The problem is that "government" is not an abstract. It is an arrangement within which ordinary people - politicians - are "lent" our authority to make and discharge responsible decisions.

    You may or may not be happy with the current occupants of the corridors of power. Personally, I don't feel there is a very benign bunch in power, but I can imagine an even worse bunch sitting in Parliament.

    It is quite possible to "plant" DNA evidence, just as fingerprints can be "planted". It shouldn't happen. But who's going to say it wouldn't?

    By the way, that was a really eviscerating blast against the Whitehall Government by Scottish Justice Secretary MacAskill during his statement about the Lockerbie convict. Good to hear!

  • Comment number 82.

    #78 Breakfast-Maker

    What begins as a 'Nanny Sate' can all too easily morph into a totalitarian regime.

    The Wheelie Bin Police can already fine you if you make a mistake sorting out your recycling. It's now common for them to sift through our rubbish!

    I think we can all agree that healthy eating is a good idea. But the way things are going, how soon will it be before a Pizza Box in the bin will be grounds for parents to be accused of neglect, and their children taken away by the State and put into care?

  • Comment number 83.

    29 . At 07:41am on 20 Aug 2009, jonathanz1 wrote:
    Can someone tell me why the police are not prosecuting themselves for breaking the law by continuing to hold this data?

    61. At 11:50am on 20 Aug 2009, Fubar_Saunders wrote:
    I've just thought of something which on first reading had passed me by...

    What on earth has it to do with ACPO??? Were they part of the consultative process (if there was one) or part of the EU Court decision?

    Whoever wins the next election must rid us of this dreadful, unaccountable talking shop. Funny how ACPO's existence parallels the downward spiral of confidence that the public have in the police in the UK...

    ===

    ACPO is literally a law unto itself. It is a private limited company owned by the senior police officers as shareholders, who make a profit selling services to the police and the wider community. A private, for profit company, has no place running our policing system, this is truly the unacceptable face of capitalism!

    Incidentally, it is only right that Damian Green should have his DNA details removed, and his case should act as a legal precedent for others to take advantage of.

  • Comment number 84.

    How about the aggrieved innocent DNA registree's all individually sue the Department of Justice under the Human Rights Act for denial of their right to privacy?

    Also name Jack Straw as a co-defendent and get him and them into court every day from now till the end of time or at least until the Labour government realise they have to do something about this.

  • Comment number 85.

    #81 fairly

    "The problem is that "government" is not an abstract. It is an arrangement within which ordinary people - politicians - are "lent" our authority to make and discharge responsible decisions"

    What an old fashioned view! Clearly you are a bit behind the times!

    Because we the people cannot be trusted to make the right decisions, New Government is all about relieving us of all those tiresome responsibilities

    Most decisions are now made by unelected officials in Europe. Because they don't have to worry about being accountable, or face an ungrateful electorate who don't don't know what's best for them, these officials can get on with their work without unnecessary distractions.

    And for this wonderful service, we pay huge amounts of money (not properly audited, obviously) and should be very grateful!

  • Comment number 86.

    ghostworld 80

    No I do not think your friend should be treated in this way and I am very much in favour of our freedoms. However I have to admit I am in a little bit of a dilemma over this one, after doing extensive reading on the subject. I do not have the answer to be honest.

    Ian Huntly and I use him as an example though there are others, was perceived to be an innocent person, thus he was able to take up a position at a school. Two little girls died because of this. Unsolved murders have been solved because of DNA putting an end to the misery for families that never received closure. As I said in my other post, even the Scottish system does not really address the problem.

    This is such a difficult question to answer. Along with all these problems, can we trust the Police is another one for me, anyway.

  • Comment number 87.

    Guilty until proven innocent - the Napoleonic Code. The Napoleon who was put in his place by Wellington (one of the original leading Tory mutators to Conservatism, nonetheless) & Nelson. Guilty until proven innocent, a policy which has since been effectively subsumed into EU law. The EU which was gradually accepted by Ted Heath & Maggie Thatcher. Then, fortunately, inadvertently, defended against, though only partially, during the ERM debacle of Major & Lamont. If the Conservative (not Tory) Party have a genuine imperfection in the face of Britain's ideal of "innocent until proven guilty", then there it is. Though Conservative, not Tory, Churchill understood the British ideal & understood that we are with Europe, but not of them. Labour will not fail to make use of the Conservative corruption of Toryism, for their own Napoleonically-aligned ends. How ironic that Wellington should've been against Napoleon, then later become Prime Minister, as the Tories evolved into the Conservatives, for what Conservatism has since led us to. Tories? They're all pursued men, & not even EU will catch them!

  • Comment number 88.

    Susan @ 86

    I feel i know your posts and opinion on a myriad of topics well enough to know you give subjects a very considered view. In the case of Huntley, the blunders were from the police, his DNA etc and records were already there to see, and they still failed to act.

    My point with reference to my friend is that he was cleared and frankly there was no case anyway,she had claimed it happened at 7.30 in the evening and was adament of this time ... funny thing is my friend plus 8 others myself included were up the pub watching a footie match.. the manager even verified this and stated we left at 11.30 .... still the police and CPS still charged him ... well the outcome was as stated previously ... but he still had a job offer withdrawn after his CRB came back showing he had been arrested ... funnily it didn't even state he had been cleared , which would have made no difference as it was out there now.

    I would rather live in a world where maybe one mistake was made by the police - ie - Huntley rather than 100 innocent people have their lives wrecked through knee jerk legislation

 

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