Police DNA sample powers 'used against gay men'

A DNA autoradiogram
Image caption Police gained new powers under the Crime and Security Act last year

Police powers to force offenders to give DNA samples have been used against gay men convicted of old homosexuality laws, it has been claimed.

In two recent cases, men said they were compelled to provide a sample because of convictions under a law that was repealed a decade ago.

In one of the cases, however, police said the demand for DNA was related to a separate conviction for theft.

The powers came into effect in England and Wales last year.

The Association of Chief Police Officers said police should demand DNA samples for only the most serious of historic offences, but that it was up to individual forces to make decisions based on the risk posed by individuals.

In one recent case, a former soldier said he was ordered by Greater Manchester Police to provide a DNA sample because of a 30-year-old conviction for having consensual sex with a fellow soldier.

Force decision

Since the Crime and Security Act became law last year, police have had powers to force thousands of "historical" offenders to provide a DNA sample - in order to help solve serious crimes such murder, rape and manslaughter dating back some 40 years.

Stephen Close, 50, a former soldier from Salford, was convicted of gross indecency in 1983 because he had sex with another soldier when both men were under 21, which was then the homosexual age of consent.

Greater Manchester Police said its decision to demand a DNA sample from Mr Close two weeks ago had nothing to do with his sexuality, but related to a separate conviction for theft in 1995.

Another gay man from Newcastle, who was fined more than two decades ago for gross indecency at the age of 20, said he was recently told by Northumbria Police that he would be arrested if he refused to provide a DNA sample.

The force denied he was targeted because of his sexuality.

Both men agreed to give DNA samples but have complained at being bracketed with serious offenders such as rapists and murderers.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites