Alex Massie

The DNA Database Con

Text settings

What the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee gives with one hand:

"The current situation of indefinite retention of the DNA profiles of those arrested but not convicted is impossible to defend in light of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights and unacceptable in principle," the committee says in a report published on 8 March 2010. [Emphasis added]

It takes away with the other:

Although the committee does not want a return to the pre-2004 situation of DNA being collected only on charging and not on arrest, it says that it should be easier for those wrongly arrested or who have volunteered their DNA to get their records removed from the database.

Sigh. So it's the storing and not the collecting that is unacceptable? Half a pie is better than no pie, I suppose.

As for the crime-solving utility of DNA (in England and Wales)? Not so useful after all. Just 0.3% of solved crimes depend, even partially, upon the use of stored DNA profiles. Not nothing! But not much either. Of course this figure might be higher if there was a compulsory, unavoidable database wouldn't it? (This is not an argument for any such expansion.) So, it seems that although the authorities will continue to insist that all this is vital it really, actually, is not.

[Thanks to Big Brother Watch 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.

Topics in this articlePoliticscrime