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 Post subject: Tory Plans on DNA Database
PostPosted: Fri, 14 May 2010 10:49:18 +0000 
"We are absolutely clear we need to make some changes in relation to the DNA database. For example one of the first things we will do is to ensure that all the people who have actually been convicted of a crime and are not present on it are actually on the DNA database.

"The last government did not do that. It focused on retaining the DNA data of people who were innocent. Let's actually make sure that those who have been found guilty are actually on that database."

So, what does this mean? How are we supposed to interpret this statement? Does this mean that those who have previously been convicted of a crime(s) and have had no further contact with the Police since the creation of the DNA Database will now be subject to the indignity of having their DNA taken.

All this talk about ""Freedom" Bills" is beginning to freak me out; I wonder what will be sneaked in?


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 Post subject: Re: Tory Plans on DNA Database
PostPosted: Fri, 14 May 2010 15:36:52 +0000 
Lyndsay E wrote:
For example one of the first things we will do is to ensure that all the people who have actually been convicted of a crime and are not present on it are actually on the DNA database.


Yeah, kind of sounds like it... but what are they actually going to do...? Trawl the Police National Computer for "criminals" that don't have a corresponding DNA sample... sounds like a lot of folks are going to be on the receiving end of a "friendly" invite to attend the local cop-shop to submit a "sample"...? How long has the DNA database been in existence for? You'd think that anyone "in the loop" would already have a sample on record? Is there no rehabilitation? Could "receiving an invite", "attending the cop shop" not be kind of embarrassing for a lot of folks? Not to mention marital strife, employment hassle? At the end of the day data is never "deleted", maybe marked as "inaccessible" at some level at most, but it will still be there. So in effect, this will amount to an EXPANSION of the DNA database. What a con :cry: You gotta laugh :D


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 Post subject: Re: Tory Plans on DNA Database
PostPosted: Fri, 14 May 2010 17:25:43 +0000 
Lyndsay E wrote:
Does this mean that those who have previously been convicted of a crime(s) and have had no further contact with the Police since the creation of the DNA Database will now be subject to the indignity of having their DNA taken.

Considering the logistics and cost of it all, I would guess it would be in the following order:

1) those currently in prison
2) those on early release/probation
3) those released (or non-prison convictions) but with 'unspent' convictions
or similar.

The first one isn't as easy as it might sound - it will take time to organise and they have to go through the records before they even start. Probably at least a year or two at the earliest before this one would be anywhere near completion.
The second one is probably the easiest - add a step in the release process whereby a sample is taken on release.
The third would take a while because they would not have everyone's current address. It would probably also be (per person at least) by far the most expensive to implement and would be de-prioritised. The words used would be "logistical issues" which just translates to "expensive" anyway.

But we won't know for sure until we see the detail, so let's not speculate ourselves into an early grave!


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 Post subject: Re: Tory Plans on DNA Database
PostPosted: Fri, 14 May 2010 21:32:03 +0000 
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How long has the DNA database been in existence for? You'd think that anyone "in the loop" would already have a sample on record?


Not necessarily. For example, if someone received a lengthy prison term for a serious crime in, say, 1995, he or she may have only recently been released yet never have had a DNA sample taken. That means that there are a few very serious offenders out and about who pose a real risk yet there is no profile on the national database. I have no problem with such people being required to attend the "cop shop" for a sample to be taken.

The concern for NO2ID should be, in my view, getting innocent people off the database, not preventing the guilty being put on it.

Stu


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 Post subject: Re: Tory Plans on DNA Database
PostPosted: Sat, 15 May 2010 11:56:27 +0000 
stu2630 wrote:
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How long has the DNA database been in existence for? You'd think that anyone "in the loop" would already have a sample on record?


Not necessarily. For example, if someone received a lengthy prison term for a serious crime in, say, 1995, he or she may have only recently been released yet never have had a DNA sample taken. That means that there are a few very serious offenders out and about who pose a real risk yet there is no profile on the national database. I have no problem with such people being required to attend the "cop shop" for a sample to be taken.

The concern for NO2ID should be, in my view, getting innocent people off the database, not preventing the guilty being put on it.

Stu


But someone recently being released from prison, even if they had been convicted in 1995 would most likely already be on the database. Besides, genuinely serious offenders are monitored for a period of time after release anyway, and in the case of those sentenced to Life monitored for the rest of their life as a condition of their release on License. Besides, "serious" offenders account for only a tiny minority of convicted offenders despite what the tabloid press may portray.

"Re-criminalising" vast swathes of the community who have had no contact with the Police for many years and therefore in effect have virtually the same likelihood of offending as the community at large does indeed represent a gross intrusion of Civil Liberties.


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 Post subject: Re: Tory Plans on DNA Database
PostPosted: Sat, 15 May 2010 15:42:17 +0000 
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But someone recently being released from prison, even if they had been convicted in 1995 would most likely already be on the database.


Not necessarily. Someone convicted in 1995 for a major offence probably committed that offence at least a year earlier, and they were still rolling out the DNA sampling back then, so many offenders from that period arten't on the database.

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Besides, genuinely serious offenders are monitored for a period of time after release anyway, and in the case of those sentenced to Life monitored for the rest of their life as a condition of their release on License. Besides, "serious" offenders account for only a tiny minority of convicted offenders despite what the tabloid press may portray.


They can't be watched 24/7, nor should they be. But if they have committed a major crime, then I think it's not unreasonable to require them to a supply a DNA sample, even years later.

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"Re-criminalising" vast swathes of the community who have had no contact with the Police for many years and therefore in effect have virtually the same likelihood of offending as the community at large does indeed represent a gross intrusion of Civil Liberties.


I disagree. Of course some people turn themselves around and go straight. However, other reasons people don't have contact with the police is that they have been in prison for a long time, and also that they are still offending but have not been caught. So far as i am concerned, if someone is EVER convicted of a certain type of crime, such as a murder or a brutal sex offence, their DNA should be on the system for life.

I want the innocent off the NDNAD, but I want the guilty on it!

Stu


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 Post subject: Re: Tory Plans on DNA Database
PostPosted: Tue, 18 May 2010 13:08:55 +0000 
stu2630 wrote:
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I want the innocent off the NDNAD, but I want the guilty on it!

Stu


Stu you seem to be more interested in using retrospective inclusion on the dna database as further punishment and humiliation for those who to coin a phrase "have served their time". Putting the the civil liberties arguments aside for a moment, surely you would concede that everyone is a potential (serious) offender until they are caught. Look how may (clever) serious offenders offended again and again until they were finally caught, (and all for the want of a dna sample?). Why not go the whole hog and have everyone on the database? This would be a much more effective approach to crime-fighting. All that focusing on "spent cartridges" so to speak does is to give a vent for anger and acts as a distraction and camouflage for those who go on offending unhindered and are as yet undetected.


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 Post subject: Re: Tory Plans on DNA Database
PostPosted: Tue, 18 May 2010 15:38:28 +0000 
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Stu you seem to be more interested in using retrospective inclusion on the dna database as further punishment and humiliation for those who to coin a phrase "have served their time".


No, far from it. You see that I mentioned retrospectively taking DNA for specific types of serious offences. I would include serious crimes against the person (murder, manslaughter, wounding and the more serious sexual offences like rape). I wouldn't include offences in which DNA is unlikely to be of value, such as riot, espionage, drug trafficking etc. In other words, it should apply only to criminals convicted of crimes in which DNA could reasonably be expected to play a part in detection.

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Putting the the civil liberties arguments aside for a moment, surely you would concede that everyone is a potential (serious) offender until they are caught.


Of course, but we operate on the assumption that people who have never been convicted of such serious offences are (a) most unlikely to commit them in the future, and (b) have the right to the presumption that they won't.

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Look how may (clever) serious offenders offended again and again until they were finally caught, (and all for the want of a dna sample?).


DNA isn't a panacea for all offending, but it is a heck of a useful tool in crime detection and also in identifying individuals who are trying to elude the authorities.

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Why not go the whole hog and have everyone on the database? This would be a much more effective approach to crime-fighting.


Perhaps it would, but I think that the public's right to anonymity and to the privacy of their own biological information outweighs the possible benefits of having everyone on the NDNAD.

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All that focusing on "spent cartridges" so to speak does is to give a vent for anger and acts as a distraction and camouflage for those who go on offending unhindered and are as yet undetected.


I'm not sure I understand you. I am saying that I support the power of the police and/or prison service to take DNA for certain types of convicted offender where their DNA is not in the database. The power should be limited, and used selectively, and not as a way of simply expanding the database for its own sake. I don't think that is unreasonable or anti-libertarian.

Stu


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 Post subject: Re: Tory Plans on DNA Database
PostPosted: Tue, 18 May 2010 16:49:44 +0000 
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DNA isn't a panacea for all offending, but it is a heck of a useful tool in crime detection and also in identifying individuals who are trying to elude the authorities.


I agree that DNA evidence isnt a "panacea", although that is the way that it is presented; there is already much debate surrounding its reliability.

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The power should be limited, and used selectively, and not as a way of simply expanding the database for its own sake.


But it wont end with "serious offenders", will it? The Police have already stated that they want everyone to be included on the DNA database. After all, modern policing is based on the "dossier technique". That's their modus operandi; it's wrong for anyone to assume that just because they have never been brought to the attention of the Police that they are not known to the Police, we are all known to the Police.

And, is retrospective legislation that extends criminal penalties ever really a good idea? The phrase "rounding up" springs to mind, its not a road that we really want to go down, is it? Besides, the whole idea smacks of the coming together of Minority Report and Back to the Future. I really think that if we set off on this path then we are all going to end up on the DNA database, you know, just to be safe.


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 Post subject: Re: Tory Plans on DNA Database
PostPosted: Tue, 18 May 2010 18:02:38 +0000 
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although that is the way that it is presented; there is already much debate surrounding its reliability.


No form of evidence is 100% reliable and most forms are generally pretty unreliable - like witness memory, or confessions, to give two examples. DNA evidence and fingerprints are, in spite of their limitations, are almost without question the most reliable. Courts simply need to be made aware that these types of evidence are not entirely foolproof.

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But it wont end with "serious offenders", will it?


I would hope so.

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The Police have already stated that they want everyone to be included on the DNA database.


You mean a police officer has already stated that he wants everyone to be included on the DNA database. The police don't speak with one voice on this, or on just about anything come to that. Most police officers i know certainly wouldn't want to the the DNA database extended to the entire population.

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After all, modern policing is based on the "dossier technique". That's their modus operandi; it's wrong for anyone to assume that just because they have never been brought to the attention of the Police that they are not known to the Police, we are all known to the Police.


I'm pleased to tell you that's simply not true. As you may or may not know, I was in the police for 30-years and the only people we had files on were either convicted criminals r those who we strongly believed were involved in crime. For the most part, if we wanted to "check someone out", and they weren't on one of the criminal index systems, we would have to use things like the Electoral Register.

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And, is retrospective legislation that extends criminal penalties ever really a good idea?


I don't see it as extending a "penalty" - it's simply applying common sense to keep the public safe. These are people who have committed very serious crimes and present a significant danger of re-offending - and wrecking, or even ending, someone's life in the process. Remember, the numbers involved would be very small indeed - I'm talking a few hundreds of individuals across the entire country.

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I really think that if we set off on this path then we are all going to end up on the DNA database, you know, just to be safe.


There is no reason why we should. We've had fingerprint technology now for many decades, but we're not all routinely fingerprinted at an early age and those prints kept on file "just in case".

Stu


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 Post subject: Re: Tory Plans on DNA Database
PostPosted: Tue, 25 May 2010 13:18:41 +0000 
stu2630 wrote:
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although that is the way that it is presented; there is already much debate surrounding its reliability.


No form of evidence is 100% reliable and most forms are generally pretty unreliable - like witness memory, or confessions, to give two examples. DNA evidence and fingerprints are, in spite of their limitations, are almost without question the most reliable. Courts simply need to be made aware that these types of evidence are not entirely foolproof.

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But it wont end with "serious offenders", will it?


I would hope so.

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The Police have already stated that they want everyone to be included on the DNA database.


You mean a police officer has already stated that he wants everyone to be included on the DNA database. The police don't speak with one voice on this, or on just about anything come to that. Most police officers i know certainly wouldn't want to the the DNA database extended to the entire population.

No-one is conducting a survey here of random bobbies on the beat. Here we are talking about the head of ACPO. The Association of Chief Police Officers is very much in favour of a universal DNA database. ACPO has even went as far as issuing misleading statements as regards the effectiveness of the DNA database. The justification for the existence (and expansion) of the database lies only in detecting suspects who would otherwise not be detected., i.e "solely" by the DNA database. By any reasonable analysis the number of occasions where DNA "solely" solves a crime is at best minuscule and at worst not at all; DNA is really only effective as a comparison when you already have an offender in custody.

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After all, modern policing is based on the "dossier technique". That's their modus operandi; it's wrong for anyone to assume that just because they have never been brought to the attention of the Police that they are not known to the Police, we are all known to the Police.


I'm pleased to tell you that's simply not true. As you may or may not know, I was in the police for 30-years and the only people we had files on were either convicted criminals r those who we strongly believed were involved in crime. For the most part, if we wanted to "check someone out", and they weren't on one of the criminal index systems, we would have to use things like the Electoral Register.

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And, is retrospective legislation that extends criminal penalties ever really a good idea?


I don't see it as extending a "penalty" - it's simply applying common sense to keep the public safe. These are people who have committed very serious crimes and present a significant danger of re-offending - and wrecking, or even ending, someone's life in the process. Remember, the numbers involved would be very small indeed - I'm talking a few hundreds of individuals across the entire country.

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I really think that if we set off on this path then we are all going to end up on the DNA database, you know, just to be safe.


There is no reason why we should. We've had fingerprint technology now for many decades, but we're not all routinely fingerprinted at an early age and those prints kept on file "just in case".

Stu


Stu, the Rehabilitation of Offenders and and value for money are objectives which you seem to have forgotten. Inclusion on the DNA database should be the exception rather than the rule. DNA should only be taken when a person has been sent to prison and then should only be retained for a fixed period depending on the nature and gravity of the offence. That way perhaps we can have a smaller more effective database.


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 Post subject: Re: Tory Plans on DNA Database
PostPosted: Tue, 25 May 2010 13:27:53 +0000 
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You mean a police officer has already stated that he wants everyone to be included on the DNA database. The police don't speak with one voice on this, or on just about anything come to that. Most police officers i know certainly wouldn't want to the the DNA database extended to the entire population.


No-one is conducting a survey here of random bobbies on the beat. Here we are talking about the head of ACPO. The Association of Chief Police Officers is very much in favour of a universal DNA database. ACPO has even went as far as issuing misleading statements as regards the effectiveness of the DNA database. The justification for the existence (and expansion) of the database lies only in detecting suspects who would otherwise not be detected., i.e "solely" by the DNA database. By any reasonable analysis the number of occasions where DNA "solely" solves a crime is at best minuscule and at worst not at all; DNA is really only effective as a comparison when you already have an offender in custody.

Stu, the Rehabilitation of Offenders and value for money are objectives which you seem to have forgotten. Inclusion on the DNA database should be the exception rather than the rule. DNA should only be taken when a person has been sent to prison and then should only be retained for a fixed period depending on the nature and gravity of the offence. That way perhaps we can have a smaller more effective database.


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 Post subject: Re: Tory Plans on DNA Database
PostPosted: Tue, 25 May 2010 19:29:38 +0000 
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Here we are talking about the head of ACPO. The Association of Chief Police Officers is very much in favour of a universal DNA database. ACPO has even went as far as issuing misleading statements as regards the effectiveness of the DNA database.


ACPO is a highly influential body, of course, but it doesn't speak for "the police": it doesn't even speak for all top-ranking police officers.

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By any reasonable analysis the number of occasions where DNA "solely" solves a crime is at best minuscule and at worst not at all; DNA is really only effective as a comparison when you already have an offender in custody.


Nope, that's not true - I have used DNA in crime investigation, so I have actual first-hand experience of it working. Firstly, of course if you have a suspect in custody and a crime scene DNA sample, that pretty much means it's game over - either there is a match or there isn't. But that's not what happens in most cases.

What does happen in most cases is this: police attend a crime scene and lift a sample which goes to FSS and they recover a profile. That profile is then searched on NDNAD and, if there is a match, the officer in the case, or some other officer, receives notification of a "hit", containing the crime details and the suspect's name. The police then arrest the suspect and investigate his or her involvement. 99% of the time, the suspect whose name appears on the form is someone who (a) lives nearby, and (b) has previous for similar offences. So the DNA doesn't "clinch " it, as it does if you already have the suspect in custody, it actually informs the officer who is the likely offender - a fact the police did not know before. Of course, an offender can deny its their DNA, or they can say they have no idea how it got to the crime scene, and then the police have to prove their case over and above the DNA evidence - but they are usually able to do that.

Lastly, DNA also helps to identify individuals. Many criminals travel all over the place, living something akin to a gypsy or hobo lifestyle and, when arrested, they will give any name they like - perhaps one which is completely fictitious, or they will give the name of a close relative. DNA helps the police determine exactly who they are so that they can not escape justice..

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Inclusion on the DNA database should be the exception rather than the rule. DNA should only be taken when a person has been sent to prison


That's a judgment call, and I would err on the side of saying that DNA should be taken at the time of arrest for any imprisonable offence. The profile should be entered on to the database and checked against outstanding crimes - as happens now. If an individual is ultimately cleared, either because their case is not pursued or they are acquitted, then it should be removed from that database. There are lots of people who escape imprisonment for quite substantial offences for all kinds of reasons.

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and then should only be retained for a fixed period depending on the nature and gravity of the offence. That way perhaps we can have a smaller more effective database.


I don't have a problem with limiting retention in the case of people who have committed relatively minor offences, and offences in which their DNA would be unlikely to be of practical use, such as drink driving, minor criminal damage, minor public order offences and the most minor drug crimes. I think for anything more substantial, the period of retention ought to be fairly substantial, e.g. a period of double the maximum prison sentence available to a Crown Court for that offence from the date of conviction. That would mean, for example, a person convicted of assault occasioning actual bodily harm would have their profile retained for 10-years, for simple theft it would be 14-years, for house burglary 28-years and rape etc would be lifelong retention. When you commit these kinds of crimes, you forfeit a certain level of privacy which those who do not offend are entitled to take for granted.

I want to see the DNA of the innocent deleted from the database - I'm not too worried about the DNA of the guilty remaining on it and I don't believe being on it interferes with an individual's "rehabilitation". If we go too far in deleting profiles, the only people to suffer will be law-abiding people such as, I presume, your good self.

Stu


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