Parky Posted March 19, 2009 Share Posted March 19, 2009 Until Tuesday I was one of 800,000 innocent people in the UK who had their DNA on the police database. Most of us had a swab sample taken on arrest and our identifiable cell clusters have languished on police files even if charges were dropped or we were found not guilty in court. In 2003 I was arrested at a protest against the arms dealer BAE Systems and charged with causing £80 worth of damage to a bus. Leaving aside the irony that if any BAE Systems products only caused £80 of damage the purchasers would sue for a refund, seven months later I found myself on trial. After two days I was acquitted on the legal technicality of being innocent. More important, the court found there was no evidence for a crime having been committed in the first place. The experience left me frustrated, with only a 20-minute comedy routine to take away the pain of injustice. Now before folk howl that I am a champagne anarchist happy to harp on about civil liberties while murderers run free, let me explain my objections. I have no problem with those found guilty of a serious criminal offence being on the database, especially those in prison - it seems small beer that the state holds a tiny amount of their DNA on file when the primary clump of their genes is being held at Her Majesty's pleasure. Likewise those who have served their time: being on the database is the price you pay for having, as the Sweeney would say, "previous". Neither do I object to the police taking my DNA in the first place - but once a person is proven innocent what right and reason do the police have to retain the DNA profile? In December 2008 all this changed when the European court of human rights ruled that by retaining the DNA of the innocent, the UK government was in breach of Article 8 of the European convention, the right to family and private life. A spirit of optimism filled campaigners as Jacqui Smith had three months to comply with the ruling. However, the one thing we have learnt about Labour home secretaries and civil liberties is that they don't much like liberty. Or civility. Three months passed and nothing changed. So with my lawyer I sent a letter before claim to the Met commissioner, essentially threatening to issue judicial review proceedings unless my DNA was removed." No innocent people should be kept on the dna database. Well done Mark. Video here http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/mar/19/dna-database-comment Link to post Share on other sites More sharing options...
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