GENEWATCH
 
TOPIC: ARE UK POLICE MAKING ARRESTS JUST TO GET DNA?
By CRG Staff
 

In a report released by the Human Genetics Commission, a retired police superintendent in the United Kingdom claims that police officers in England and Wales routinely make arrests for the sole purpose of adding new profiles to the national DNA database. In its November report, "Nothing to Hide, Nothing to Fear?" the Human Genetics Commission found that nearly 20% of DNA profiles in the UK database - almost one million profiles - were taken from innocent people. The report also suggests that as many as three quarters of 18-35 year old black males are listed in the database, compared to around 8% of the population as a whole.

In Scotland, samples may only be recorded from convicted criminals, suspects awaiting trial, and as part of a new law, suspects acquitted of serious violent or sexual offences. In England and Wales, however, anyone arrested on suspicion of nearly any crime can have their DNA profile recorded in the database, even if acquitted or not charged at all.

According to the commission's chair, Professor Jonathan Montgomery, "there has been a steady 'function creep', allowing more and more people's DNA to be kept, but it is not clear that this is matched by an improvement in securing convictions."

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The use of forensic DNA databases by law enforcement around the globe is expanding at a rate that should be of great concern to civil libertarians.
 
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