Sunday, August 26, 2007

500,000 incorrect records on DNA database

I am trying to decide whether we should be worried or pleased about this report from the Independent on Sunday:

Over 500,000 names on the DNA database are false, misspelt or incorrect, the Government has admitted ...

Thousands asked to give their details to police upon arrest have given false names or alternative spellings of their names. In other cases, mistakes have been made in the spelling of names. Some files include names belonging to someone else, or names of people who do not exist. Altogether there are 550,000 "replica" files.
For the Liberal Democrats, Lynne Featherstone is quote as saying:

"If the database is to be of any use, then it has to be accurate. DNA data is open to abuse and this could allow people who mean no good to do no good. The more failsafe the police regard DNA, the easier it is to set someone up,"
All that is true, but do we want the database to be of any use? Lib Dem blogger Jock's Place gets it right when he says:
This database, accurate or not, is open to abuse. The way the data is collected is abhorrent, from children and uncharged adults who have likely done nothing wrong or where the evidence has not been able to show they have done anything wrong. Our message is that it should be scrapped. Not merely tidied up.

Our DNA is part of us as individuals. Holding samples of it is false imprisonment. It should be subject to habeas corpus. There can be no truck with this illiberal nonsense.
And I can't forget a letter that was published in Viz a few months ago. It pointed out that scientists have shown that humans and chimpanzees share 98 per cent of their DNA and asked if chimps were going round committing crimes and getting away with it as a result.

2 comments:

dreamingspire said...

From late last autumn the National identity Scheme has a new architecture, in which biometric information will be accumulated in a new database. This information, it is said, will be gathered as citizens and some non-UK-citizens are registered from scratch - one obvious route is when we register for a new style 'biometric' passport. Therefore I'm looking for LD spokespersons to be quite specific: the DNA database featured in this blog posting should not be merged into the new NIS database.
There is a parliamentary and industry organisation, EURIM (www.eurim.org.uk) looking at this area - I can't find Nick Clegg MP in its list of parliamentary members.

Mark Pack said...

Whilst deciding you could always take a look at the party's petition on the subject :-)