Tuesday, 24 November 2009

No Fishing Allowed

Do you really believe that we the police arrest people just to get their DNA? Why is it that The Daily Mail once again targets us when criticising the formation of the DNA database? What a load of shite they write. I'm sure they would be on full attack mode if we didn't arrest somebody who was later found through DNA to have been committing offences and we could have prevented them. Let's make it very clear there has to be at least suspicion of an offence before an Individual is arrested and this triggers the DNA sample being taken if it is a recordable offence.

If a person is innocent or NFA'd that DNA profile is currently retained. That is a government decision so direct your articles that way please Mr Editor of The Mail . I've always questioned if the taking prints and DNA from people arrested for minor offences is proportionate but there can be no doubt it helps in the fight against crime. There have been numerous examples where a DNA sample taken on arrest, has after a speculative search implicated that individual in a cold case. I am therefore in favour of the database.

The Human Genetic Commission report includes a quote from a retired senior police officer, a superintendent, who told the commission: "It is now the norm to arrest offenders for everything if there is a power to do so". His assumption links to the need to take DNA but in reality it comes back to officers covering their backs. Presently there is a big purge on to arrest all named suspects on outstanding crime reports. The reason, because of press outrage when we didn't arrest suspects who went on to commit offences. So what do the press want - you can't have it both ways. Alot of those suspects will be found innocent or shouldn't have been named suspects in the first place.

I must admit that DNA samples were in the back of my mind when arresting a local lad for a smidgen of cannabis once. He was however a Jamaican drug dealer not long in the country who I'd been after for ages. We didn't have his prints photograph or DNA on PNC. My reasoning was that by having his DNA on record there was always a chance that he would implicate himself in later operations when he sold crack from his mouth. All perfectly legal and above board and one reason why I'm not into cannabis warnings per se. He will be one of the 3/4 of black males within a certain age group on the database. The report wants an equality strand inserted to counter this percentage.

I haven't read the report in great detail but apart from the sensational headlines in the press some makes a bit of sense. DNA retention does need looking at and I would suggest a criminal database for the guilty on PNC and a separate database for innocent and juvenile profiles to be looked after by an independent body, but still searchable.

Oh and by the way my fingerprints are on file and so is my DNA somewhere. It doesn't bother me as I don't commit crime. I'm more worried about being on databases elsewhere which leads to my phone ringing all the time to sell me crap*.

* This has eased since I registered here http://www.callpreventionregistry.co.uk/


Blue Eyes said...

Broadly agree. Will do a full post in reply later over at my place because I think this discussion is important.

I was under the impression that legally arrest is the last resort not the first? If that is true then how can speculative arrests be justified?

Stressed Out Cop said...

SOCPA has caused alot of confusion and I think is badly written.

It actually provides a catch all on arrest conditions and of course includes necessity to take "samples" and to undertake drug testing.

Could you imagine reporting for summons for common assault and then that person went on to kill before the paperwork was issued?

No such thing as a speculative arrest - just a prompt effective investigation to establish facts. Don't forget PND is effectively a summons too.

Blue Eyes said...

Sorry, what I meant was that given that an arrest has to be "necessary" one shouldn't be made *just* to get the suspect onto the register. Meaning that the senior officer quoted either is wrong or worked in a force whose policy was unlawful?

Stressed Out Cop said...

I read what he wrote. He sent a letter into the enquiry and it had a lot of "from what I've heard in it" - He was obviously pre SOCPA and I think was more concerned about loss of discretion he could use under old sec 24 "may arrest" rather than DNA.

They'd be better off speaking to people who've actually worked both arrest powers.

MarkUK said...

I'm against the database for people who haven't been convicted. Sure, take the samples on arrest but destroy them if it's NFA or acquitted.

People who have not been found guilty of any offence should not have personal data stored - and what could be more personal than DNA?

I accept that there are exceptions. If there are "reasonable grounds" for keeping the DNA, then put the case to a magistrate for approval. It could be in camera if you didn't want the suspect pre-warned.

Otherwise you may as well chip us all - and I know some would like that.

Dandelion said...

Blue Eyes - that chap probably worked in the Met.

I think the problem in arresting the generally law-abiding for petty things against the public interest is less for the DNA than for meeting beaurocratic targets, and because *some* police officers get a hard-on from abusing people and ruining their lives.

I want personality-testing in police recruitment and proper independent accountability. Then you won't get these stupid headlines.

Stressed Out Cop said...


What about the female officers? What do they get? Opps that's my diversity testing chip kicking in!!


That's what used to happen. I recall a job where a nasty rapist gave a sample for a rape he didn't do - but it came back as a hit on a rape series he did do. They couldn't use the sample as evidence (had to destroy it) having to get another one for the series. Until the result came back he had to go under 24 hour surveillance.

I think the profile should be retained somewhere. There will always be 2 sides to this coin.

Dandelion said...

Well yes, the females would get the female equivalent of a hard-on, wouldn't they? :-) I was kind of taking that as read.

Tom said...

I do not believe that the police are the culprits here. Many years ago, a child was abducted from a hospital, raped and killed. This occured in Bradford, and the male populce had thier finger-prints taken.

Eventually, the killer was charged and 'swung' for his actions, and the 'Bradford' experience was officiated at a grand burning of prints not required for the prosecution of the murderous bastard. At that time the public openly embraced and trusted the police, as I still do.

However instruments of law, adopted, and enforced by police are, in my opinion horribly misconstrued by front line personnel doing their job, as 'politically' directed by their masters.

Metcountymounty said...

Dandelion, re your comment about personality testing in recruitment, what would be your ideal personality type for Policing and what do you base your opinion and suggestion on?