UK cops arrest people 'for DNA'

UK cops arrest people 'for DNA'

UK cops arrest people 'for DNA'

The Human Genetics Commission, which advises the government on the social, legal and ethical aspects of genetics, called for a review of the database and said new laws must be passed to govern its use.  The commission, in a report,  said “function creep” had transformed the system froma DNA store for offenders into a database of suspects.

More than three-quarters of young black men aged between 18 and 35 are on the system, the report said.  Set up in 1995, the database contains the DNA profiles of five million citizens, eight per cent of the population, making it the world’s biggest in proportion to population size.

“Parliament has never formally debated the establishment of the National DNA Database and safeguards around it,” commission chairman Professor Jonathan Montgomery said in a statement.

“It has developed through amendments to laws designed to regulate the taking of fingerprints and physical evidence before DNA profiling was developed. It was unclear how the DNA database improved police investigations, it said.  The report quoted an unidentified retired senior police officer as saying that “it is now the norm to arrest offenders for everything” in order to obtain a DNA sample.

A Home Office spokesman said the database was a “vital crime-fighting tool” that had linked more than 410,000 crime scenes with a DNA match and a possible lead to an offender between 1998 and March 2009.  

“Research shows no clear link between the level of offence for which an individual is arrested and the seriousness of any subsequent offence with which they may be associated,” the spokesman said.

Opposition politicians and human rights groups said the report provided further evidence that Britain is becoming a “surveillance society”, where people’s personal details are stored and their movements constantly monitored.