February 11th, 2011

At the end of the tunnel?

Posted in The Job - General by 200

I’ve posted several times over the last few years about the way the UK takes & holds DNA samples from innocent people. I posted my thoughts on the matter in August 2008.  Whilst no fan of the European Courts I was pleased in December 2008 when they ruled the holding of unconvicted people’s DNA samples was wrong.

In May 2009, I was cheered that the government appeared to be acquiescing with the ruling & were set to destroy 800,000 samples. Then in October 2009 I was disappointed that the government decided to ignore Europe & stated they would keep innocents’ samples.

In April 2010 I was pleased that the Scots decided keeping these samples was not right & they would go against what England & Wales were doing.

So another story in the see-saw tale of the DNA Database as the government reveal their intention to change their mind again & delete the DNA samples of innocent people. The new Civil Liberties legislation is set to come into force later this year which will change the way we record & keep DNA samples. It will also address issues relating to the use of ANPR, CCTV & surveillance.

Perhaps, for those of us concerned with such issues, this really is light at the end of the tunnel, unless they change their mind again.

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  1. John says:

    But I note that the DNA information is only required to be removed from police systems.
    Most is also duplicated on other systems, such as the laboratory that processes the samples.
    And nothing seems to stop the information being held on a database by others.
    The fine print is the killer……it also seems that the DNA data already taken is exempt from ongoing regulation…

    February 12th, 2011 at 10:19

  2. Civ_In_The_City says:

    I haven`t thought this one through, and I don`t know the technicalities, but…

    Surely they don`t hold actual physical material containing my DNA? Don`t they just keep a record of my DNA pattern, not the stuff itself?

    When I see them looking at DNA profiles on the T.V. they are looking at streaks of black and white patches on acetate, like giant photo negatives. I would expect this to be turned into computer data of some kind so an algorithm could quickly scan through a database of them and find similarities.

    If they DO also keep the original swabs and such I`m not too bothered (yet). Other than those one in a billion cases where two different people have the same DNA pattern, or until they start creating mini-me`s from the cells on a Q-Tip, I don`t feels any of my rights are being infringed.

    Or if they are, there are many other ways in which those same rights are infringed every single day (CCTV cameras recording my visits to the shopping centre, Tescos or Sainsburys knowing every detail of my credit history and so on).

    The police holding a tiny piece of my body on file isn`t as insidious as a commercial company keeping a record of how my mind works.

    February 12th, 2011 at 10:29

  3. Tony F says:

    Re CCTV, as far as that goes, the recordings are only kept for 31 days maximum, some towns only keep theirs for 14 days. The exception to this is when Police require evidence for an incident this then recorded to either a DVD or hard drive in an encrypted manner. What they then do with it is up to them, but the original will be overwritten after 31 days.

    February 12th, 2011 at 17:11

  4. Reactivley Proactive says:

    When DNA is collected there are 2 samples given. The first is used to obtain your DNA profile and the second is locked away and kept with the Forensic Science Service. It is kept in an used way so should a problem be brought to light in years to come with a particular persons DNA becoming contaminated or at least a suggestion of it, the 2nd sample can then be used. Its like a master copy of an interview tape – never used unless the working copy is brought into doubt in some way.

    N.B The 2nd swab can also be used for pre-1997 samples (the technology wasn’t as good then) should an improved profile be needed and the subject refuses to give another sample and it wasn’t taken whilst they were in custody. This can only be authorised with the consent of of CPS, the chief constable or designated ACC and the chairperson of the national DNA board.

    February 12th, 2011 at 18:35

  5. Reactivley Proactive says:

    * should read “It is kept in an unused way”!

    February 12th, 2011 at 18:36

  6. Hibbo says:

    Blimey 200! That’s the most sensible thing I’ve ever seen you write! We could be forgiven for thinking that there’s a compassionate human hiding in there somewhere!

    February 15th, 2011 at 05:23

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