11 Nov 2009

A Disappointing DNA Decision

there's been much discussion on the news this morning in regards of the decision to remove people's DNA from the databases maintained by the police

This is sent off the number of predictable arguments about why it's unfair (because innocent people have not been proved guilty) and why it's there (because rapists and murderers may not be caught otherwise).

However the thing that jumped out at me from the information provided on DNA databases is that there are no announcements as to what will be done immediately about the vast number of people's DNA is kept on file. Given that they cannot provide statistics on the amount of people convicted on the basis of the DNA evidence, I would be extremely surprised if they know how many people as DNA they've kept how long and therefore delete the relevant information that has been held for six years. now that the decision has been made, I want to know what they are going to do NOW. Not the rhetoric of arguments we have been presented with the several years.

It is also interesting how many issues it shows with our police forces.

There are no reliable figures on how many crimes have been solved solely because someone cleared of one offence has been later linked to another through their DNA.

Why on earth not? the police, similarly to other public bodies such as the NHS, consisted of nearly 60% administrative staff. how, among all of these people, is in not people working on statistics utilising national databases to find out who has been convicted of a crime and what evidence is being used to convict them. It would be easy to tally the number of people have been convicted of a separate crime other than the crime for which their DNA was first taken.

My argument with DNA bed databases has always been that all of the time for the national police forces work targets, from penalty notice signs (and did you see panorama?)we should not maintain a database of any form.

The police force get financial remuneration that meeting targets, be it issuing penalty notice times for rape, or recording the DNA of any witness to the events that comes through their doors.

Holding information on six years will not change this. The police will continue to appropriate people's DNA for whatever reason they find to ensure that they get the right amount of money for their business units. And people will continue to be convicted of offences of which they had not committed and have their DNA used inappropriately whatever the motivation.

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