Alex Massie

New Police Mission: DNA-Farming

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Can this really be true? Apparently and alas unsuprisingly the answer seems to be yes:

Police are routinely arresting people simply to record their DNA profiles on the national database, according to a report published today...

The revelations will fuel the debate about the DNA database, the world’s largest. They are included in a report by the Human Genetics Commission, an independent government advisory body. It criticises the piecemeal development of the database and questions how effective it is in helping the police to investigate and solve crimes.

[...]Professor Montgomery said there was some evidence that people were arrested to retain the DNA information even though they might not have been arrested in other circumstance.

He said that a retired senior police officer told the commission: “It is now the norm to arrest offenders for everything if there is a power to do so. It is apparently understood by serving police officers that one of the reasons . . . is so that DNA can be obtained.” He said that the tradition of only arresting someone when dealing with serious offences had collapsed. Again, this is an area in which the Tories have spent some time talking a good game. That's easy in opposition. The test will come should they win the election and then find themselves at the mercy of both the police lobby (in England) and their own authoritarian instincts. Away from the public finances, combatting the kind of culture that produces the mentality behind this sort of caper is one of the more, perhaps most, pressing tasks the Conservatives will face.

[Thanks to RF for the tip.]

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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