Sat, 07 Apr 2007

Turning Britain into a nation of suspects - 3

At the House of Lords debate on Police: DNA Database on the 2007-03-08, Baroness Scotland of Asthal (Minister of State, Home Office) stated that “[t]here were nearly 3.8 million persons on the DNA database as at the end of January 2007”, confirmed that “each sample is kept on the database indefinitely” and explained “we should be clear that negotiations on the Prum treaty have not been completed” (the Prum treaty is a European treaty, which gives European member states direct access to national DNA records).

In other news last month, we learn that “five civil servants who help run the national DNA database have been suspended after being accused of industrial espionage” but don't worry as “[t]he Home Office insisted there was no question information held on the database had been 'compromised'”

The Home Office published a consultation on Modernising Police Powers: Review of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 (closing date for responses: 2007-05-31) in which it suggests the creation of short term holding facilities (STHF) in shopping centres: “The function of the STHF would be to confirm the identity of the suspect and process the person by reporting for summons/charging by post, a penalty notice or other disposal. Persons detained would be subject to detention up to a maximum period of 4 hours to enable fingerprinting, photographing and DNA sampling. The STHF would not be used in cases where the arresting officer considers that an investigation was required and authority to transfer a person from a STHF to a designated police station would require the authority of an Inspector.” The document goes as far as suggesting to remove all exisiting limitations on taking DNA samples: “Is there scope to populate identification databases and remove unnecessary operational constraints on the extent to which police are able to use fingerprints etc. to prevent, detect and investigate crime?”

(Background information on DNA: Should the Police keep your DNA forever?)

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