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Friday, February 19, 2010

A matter of competence

I am on record in a number of places as being opposed to the retention of DNA records by the Police, when the person concerned is innocent. I have also expressed my scepticism of and opposition to a universal DNA bank, which I believe is unworkable and undesirable. However, that does not mean that I am opposed to the use and retention of DNA records when that is justified by the circumstances.

None of this chimes with government policy of course where Ministers seem intent on ignoring human rights rulings so as to allow the existing illiberal regime to prevail. Britain's DNA register is the largest in the world and yet according to a report in today's Guardian the Government cannot even get the basics right on that.

The paper says that the 83,755 people who are currently prisoners in England and Wales do not all have their DNA profiles logged on the police national database. This contrasts sharply with the number of innocent people — more than 975,000 at the last count — who have been arrested but never charged or convicted of an offence yet whose DNA has been collected and logged.

So let us check that we have this right: Britain's criminal DNA database has nearly a million innocent people on its books but many of those who have actually been found guilty of a crime and punished for it do not feature at all. It is hard to fathom what the Police and the Home Office think they are doing.

I have never been a conspiracy theorist so I will dismiss all the Big Brother reasons I can think of for this state of affairs and opt for incompetence instead. It is enough to make you weep.


Bureaucratic incompetence? Always remember Robert Conquest's maxim; "the behaviour of any bureaucratic organisation can best be understood by assuming that it is controlled by a cabal of its enemies."
Perhaps we should have police officer's DNA on this database as a matter of standard practice.

Start off with the most senior:

Peter Vaughen
Colette Paul
Nick Croft
Sally Burke
Richard Lewis
David Morris

I'm sure the Boys in Blue keep an eye on your Blog Peter, let THEM volunteer to have their DNA fingerprints on the PNC!
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