Tuesday, November 24, 2009

DNA Database is Racist

With chilling echoes back to the data collected in Nazi Germany on genetics the startling truth about the criminal database is that 3 in ever 4 young black, British males finds himself on the DNA database. In total there is also a third of all Black men.

Of course the computer itself is colour blind. But as each entrant on that database at present has been stopped, arrested and sampled, even if released and not charged with any crime, shows the latest findings in a horrifying light. The Human Genetics Commission who drew up this report gets this figure from a question asked to the Home Affairs select committee to Baroness Scotland in 2007 when she responded to the statement that "as many as 77 per cent of young black males will soon be on the DNA database" with "The figures in relation to 77 per cent, I think, are correct." This figure does not tally with those officially released by the Government.

However, the Guardian focuses on the part of the report that Police are routinely arresting people with the purpose of adding their DNA to the police database. But as those targeted for such action are overly representing Afro-Caribbean young men their increased stigmatism from the police. There is also the tale of a 12-year-old schoolboy who eleven years ago was swabbed and added to the database of an alleged incident involving Pokemon cards. Or the black man who was arrested for not wearing his seatbelt.

Database evidence is not the be all and end all of police work, nor should it ever be. It is only part of the process, but also what has happened to the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty. The fact that there are 5 million individuals on the crime detection database, many of whom have never been charged or found to have been involved in a crime is a backdoor way to lazy policing. It is not a coverall for the lack of policing on the streets, all of us would agree that prevention is better than detection after the event.

But all this picking up, swabbing and cataloging of data of people who aren't doing anything criminal is wasting police time. The section 60 powers that give the police this amount of power to stop anyone at anytime and arrest without just cause is merely farming DNA unto the Government's pet database project. With the report that has been produced there is a clear reason that innocent peoples DNA should be struck from the database. This is not being used to prevent or detect crime, this is being used to target certain groups in our society without just cause being given.

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