Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Putting everyone's DNA on the police database - great idea!

I am not entirely convinced that the "silly season" died with the last dusk of August.

This morning's Today was spiked with two obvious "muesli chokers". One wonders how long they had been lying in the editor's bottom drawer awaiting a "slow news day".

Number one was a study in Sydney, Australia which showed that dogs being walked make birds scarper. Cue: Five thousand outraged text messages and emails to the Today studio from Home County dog owners.

Number two, which I admit sounds as though it hasn't been lingering in the Today editor's bottom drawer, was a judge who has called for everyone in the UK, including all visitors to the country, to be put on the police DNA database.

The logic is that currently a lot of people who have been acquitted of crimes are still on the database and that it includes a disproportionate amount of ethnic minority people's DNA. So, the answer is obvious - put the whole population on, plus everyone who visits the country, even for a weekend.

Excellent. Well done Lord Justice Sedley.

So, there are four million people on the database currently and there are already issues about managing the data and its reliability.

The population of the UK is 60 million. It is growing by roughly 350,000 each year. There are about 7 million tourists coming into the country each year.

So, at a rough estimate, a DNA database covering residents and visitors, if started now would need to contain the DNA of 133 million people by 2017, compared to 4 million now.

Anybody got any spare hard drives?

Then, take into account the queues at Heathrow and other ports while visitors are swabbed and people have arguments about human rights with the swabbers.

There is another point made by the Information Commissioner on Today. The whole population DNA database would lead to a presumption of guilt if someone's DNA was matched to a crime scene, leading that presumed person to be required to prove their innocence - a historic shift against the "innocent until proved guilty" presumption.

But, hey, this is all OK, because, to use the current cliché, "there needs to be a debate on this".

Excellent. All first born should be beheaded in the local high street. There needs to be a debate on that too.

1 comment:

  1. I'm wondering if he's trying to expose the DNA database for the idiotic thing it is...

    Perhaps I'm being too kind though...

    I note the government doesn't rule it out - there are 'just no plans'. McNulty and co would love to get this through so we can all belong to the state. For our own good naturally.