|The Home Office’s decision to continue to keep the DNA of innocent people on the criminal database for up to six years has been slammed by civil liberties groups. They say that this is unacceptable as it will criminalise Briton’s black communities.Home office decision will damage community relationsToday’s announcement by the Home Office means that police will be given the power to keep the DNA of anyone cautioned or arrested on the national criminal database for up to six years.This decision is in response to a European Court ruling which found that the current practice of keeping the DNA of innocent people on the criminal database indefinitely, to be unlawful.
Equality groups have welcomed statements from the shadow home secretary Chris Grayling and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg, who both say only those people who have been convicted of a crime should be on the criminal database.
They believe that the Government’s decision to keep the genetic profiles of people who have not been convicted of a crime for any length of time is ill conceived. Race equality experts have also warned that the negative impact of this will hit people from African Caribbean communities hardest and damage the community’s relations.
DNA database has crmiinalised black Briton
The over policing of these communities has led to 77% of all young black men and 42% of the entire black male population being profiled on the DNA database.
Children from this community are also over represented on this system. Close to one out of four black children (23%) compared to one out of ten white children (10%) are profiled on the database.
‘It is extremely disappointing that the government is still insisting on not abiding by either the letter or the spirit of the European Court ruling.
This decision is effectively criminalising thousands of young people. Moreover, the disproportionate representation of the Black community, especially young Black males, on the database is a gross injustice that we expect the government to redress, and not compound,’ Olu Alake President of 100 Black Men of London told Black Mental Health UK.
Purpose of retaining DNA is to treat those on the database as suspects
The purpose of the police retaining an individual’s DNA on this database is to treat them as a suspect for any future crime. With at least one member of every family from this community currently on this system, there are concerns that this technology has effectively criminalised Black Britain.
‘The massive expansion of Britain’s DNA database has failed to deliver genuine benefits in terms of solving crime, instead eroding public trust in policing. Young black men are the people most likely to be victims of the Government’s attack on everybody’s rights.
Today’s announcement is a sign that the Government has lost the capacity to listen to the voices of the people it is supposed to represent,’ Dr Helen Wallace director of GeneWatch UK told Black Mental Health UK.
Commenting on this announcement the Tory shadow home secretary, Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, told the Telegraph: ‘Alan Johnson just doesn’t seem to understand that there is a fundamental principle at stake here – that people are innocent until proven guilty. It will fall to a future administration to do the right thing and end Labour’s draconian approach.’
The opposition leader for the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg has also spoken out against this decision. He said. ‘People who are innocent should be removed from the DNA database immediately. No ifs and no buts.’
Community observers say that this has sent out a clear message that Labour are no longer the party that is looking out for the interests of minority groups.
‘With just six months to go until the next election, this government would be wise to rethink this position. This community traditionally vote Labour but are unlikely to vote for a government that has criminalised them through their ill thought out policies.’ Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.
‘The message to the government is simple – No innocent DNA on the database!’ Olu Alake President of 100 Black Men of London added.