UK Liberty

DNA Database

Posted in DNA database, law and order, politicians on liberty, relates to ordinary people by ukliberty on November 28, 2009

from the 19th november.

How convenient:

Lord Lester of Herne Hill (Liberal Democrat)

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they intend to legislate to abide by the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights of 4 December 2008 in S and Marper v United Kingdom so as to end the practice of holding DNA samples of individuals who are arrested but later acquitted or have the charges against them dropped; and, if so, whether they will ensure that the practice is ended and legislation enacted during the present Parliament.

Lord West of Spithead (Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Security and Counter-terrorism), Home Office; Labour)

We will bring forward proposals to change domestic law in response to the judgment as soon as parliamentary time allows.

… given that the governing party sets the Parliamentary timetable.

And, given that it is a matter of policy, not law, as to the samples that are taken and for how long, this is a bit of a red herring – in other words, the police aren’t obliged by law to take samples, the law simply gives them the power to do so, and policy changes do not require changes in domestic law.

Nothing to hide, nothing to fear – right?

The Register:

The UK government has turned down an opposition request to explain why it has refused to publish a full security report into ContactPoint, the controversial child protection database. …

Human Genetics Commission criticises National DNA Database

The Register:

The Human Genetics Commission (HGC) is the Government’s group of independent advisers on developments in human genetics: it is hoped that its “nuanced” critique of government policy will avoid a repetition of the Nutt affair and the Home Secretary will not, on this occasion, go so far as to sack his experts for providing advice that is out of step with his own views.

The HGC report, Nothing to hide, nothing to fear, concludes that although Britain has the largest police DNA database in the world – five million strong and still growing – this has been developed piecemeal without a specific Act of Parliament. The database needs to be regulated on a clear statutory basis and supervised by an independent authority.


On retired police officer told the researchers that in contrast to practices in his early career, it was now “the norm” to arrest people for “everything there is a power to do so” in part to expand the database.

“It is apparently understood by serving police officers that one of the reasons, if not the reason, for the change in practice is so that the DNA of the offender can be obtained: samples can be obtained after arrest but not if there is a report for summons. It matters not, of course, whether the arrest leads to no action, a caution or a charge, because the DNA is kept on the database anyway,” the ex-copper said.

The report further concludes that:

– There is insufficient evidence at present to be able to say what use it is to hold DNA profiles from different people

– There needs to be very careful consideration of the equality impact of the database and any proposed changes to it

– There needs to be a clear and independent appeals procedure for unconvicted people who want their DNA removed

The Government of course dismisses all criticism.

“We know that the DNA database is a vital crime fighting tool, identifying 410,589 crime scenes between 1998 and March 2009 with a DNA match and a possible lead on the possible identity of the offender.”

Which gives us no information on what proportion of those matches turned out to be of any use, exactly (one of) the point the HGC made.

Intercept Modernisation Programme delayed until after next election

Posted in politicians on liberty, privacy, surveillance society by ukliberty on November 11, 2009

The Independent (and other outlets):

Plans to store information about every phone call, email and internet visit in the United Kingdom have in effect been abandoned by the Government.

The Home Office confirmed the “Big Brother” scheme had been delayed until after the election amid protests that it would be intrusive and open to abuse. Although ministers publicly insisted yesterday that they remained committed to the scheme, they have decided not to include the contentious measure in next week’s Queen’s Speech, the Government’s final legislative programme before the election.

Home Affairs Committee – oral evidence on Home Office response to terrorism

Posted in detention without charge, law and order, politicians on liberty, rule of law by ukliberty on November 10, 2009

Some interesting evidence here, particularly from Sir Ken MacDonald QC, former Director of Public Prosecutions, and on the matter of intercept evidence in court.

What Sir Ken MacDonald says about the infringements we managed to avoid is worth hearing (1 hour 2 mins in) – pretty shocking what has been proposed by those at the top.