UK: Inquiry claims police arresting people just to get DNA

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An inquiry that is reviewing the national DNA database will make allegations that police officers in England and Wales are routinely arresting people so that their DNA sample can be added to that same database; with the inquiry hinting that some of the DNA database could be racially motivated.

That same database is set to be shared with police officials in Canada and Australia; and is already being shared with several of its European counterparts; although, the deal between Canada and Australia is limited to 3,000 sets of fingerprints between each of the countries.

The allegations, to be made public tomorrow, according to UK’s The Guardian, will claim that three-quarters of young black males aged between 18 and 35 are included on the database. However, the chair of the inquiry, Professor Jonathon Montgomery, says that these results should be taken very lightly since the ethnicity of a person is up to the arresting officer.

The report will include testimony from a former superintendent that claims that it is the norm to arrest offenders for everything possible under the law. “It is apparently understood by serving police officers that one of the reasons, if not the reason, for the change in practice is so that the DNA of the offender can be obtained,” Professor Montgomery told the Guardian.

The UK Government announced that it will be keeping the DNA profiles for six years, after a landmark verdict in a European court found that it was illegal to keep the data for an indefinite span of time, even if the person has not committed a crime.

The national database, which is limited in England and Wales (Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own police and judiciary), is already declared the largest in the world, with 5 million profiles listed, and has no independent body overseeing it.

The Home Office estimates that there could be up to 980,000 innocent people in the list.

Image: chadmiller/Flickr (CC)

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