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From The Socialist newspaper, 13 September 2007

DNA database

Keeping tabs on the millions?

A SENIOR appeal judge, Sir Stephen Sedley, has called for the genetic details of all the 60 million people who live in Britain and the 30 million who visit every year to be added to the national DNA database.

Bob Severn

Already over four million DNA samples are kept on the database, which is more than in any other country.

The Home Office says that 5.2% of Britain's population are on the database, compared to 0.5% in the US.

What is more, 30,000 profiles are already added to the database each month. A third of the people recorded on the database have never been found guilty of a crime.

The information commissioner, Richard Thomas, warned that a universal database would be "highly intrusive" with "the greater risk of false matches and other mistakes. The potential for technical and human error leading to serious consequences cannot be under-estimated."

Even though Sedley has said that DNA details should be recorded "for the absolutely rigorously restricted purpose of crime detection and prevention", privacy experts have said there would be immense pressure to use the database for a far wider range of purposes, most obviously for such civil court actions as paternity suits. But who would control the information and decide on how it can be used?

The DNA database was created in 1995 and now has profiles of 884,000 people under 18 and over 100 records of children under ten years old.

Last year, Tony Blair said that he saw no reason for not having everyone's DNA on record.

Gordon Brown's spokesperson has said there are no government plans for a compulsory database, raising civil liberty, logistical and bureaucratic problems.

But Home Office minister Tony McNulty said that he was sympathetic to the judge's reasoning.

Currently the Home Office are reviewing the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 that sets out powers for taking and retaining biometric data.

Lord Justice Sedley's argument was that a disproportionate numbers of DNA entries on the database are of people from ethnic minorities.

Perhaps a better solution to this injustice would be to attack the main cause of crime - social deprivation - instead of passing anti-terror laws that mean people get stopped for 'travelling whilst Asian'.

And also by action against the real criminals, in particular the billionaire bosses and their war-mongering puppets in government.

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In The Socialist 13 September 2007:

Fighting Unions Need a New party

Postal workers: "We have the power!"

TUC conference: Standing up to Brown's attacks

Needed: a combative trade union movement


War and terrorism

Iraq: Get the troops out now


Workplace news and events

Tube workers' strike scores victory

Bosses get away with murder


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Nurses strike

Manchester cuts maternity services

Leeds - no more deficits and cuts


APEC summit

APEC summit: Thousands defy police crackdown


Socialist Party news and analysis

Overcrowded prisons, overworked staff

Keeping tabs on the millions?

A life of debt and poverty?


Socialist Party feature

Tory party struggles to recapture territory taken by New Labour


International news and analysis

Impressions of China


Socialist Party review

Robert Blincoe - a life that illuminates an age


 

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