Thursday, January 28, 2010

DNA Database - innocent, but could be guilty later

Inspired by Dizzy Thinks’ piece on the DNA database I dug out something I wrote for the Return my DNA campaign:

To me the storage of an innocent person's DNA seems to go against the basic principles of innocent until proven guilty. In fact it introduces a new category of "could be guilty later". No doubt the police already have this category in their heads but by having a database full of such "could be guilty later" people they can quickly move from “could be guilty later” to "must be guilty now" regardless of the facts.

I think one of the biggest challenges for the return my DNA campaign is to overcome apathy from the general public, many of whom’s views are not that different to the police. "Ohh if they’ve been arrested they must be trouble". Or people who say well "If it helps then I don't mind" or the classic "If you've got nothing to hide..." argument.

Part of the issue is that the general public don't see this as something that affects them. In their mind people who are arrested are "bad people" who deserve what they get, they've never been arrested and never will be as far as they're concerned because they are good people. They forget that mistakes are made and that innocent people are often questioned and arrested, and that one day that innocent person could be them.

If we are not careful allowing DNA retention to continue and adding in legislation like detainment without charge, and the Interception Modernisation plan to name just two, we can quickly and easily walk into a world that is very different to the one we are in today.

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