Familial DNA and Human Rights

When we nick people we take their DNA. It’s the equivalent of taking a bit of spit.  I’d queue up to give mine as a public duty.  There is a database and it sometimes throws up a match to serious unsolved crimes.  Now some near misses are turning up,indicating near relatives may be implicated.  Some ‘Sleeper’ serial killer has turned up this way.

Does anyone have a decent explanation of the civil rights angles on this?


11 thoughts on “Familial DNA and Human Rights

  1. There are lots. There’s the argument that we are not cattle, the property of the state, to be so marked at birth.

    There’s the assumption that we (or in the case of familial DNA, our families) are just potential criminals who just haven’t done anything YET. And that that changes our relationship with the state and the police.

    There’s the fact that DNA is not the infallible magic bullet that the TV and films would have you believe.

    For me, no. Convicted criminals ONLY should appear on any database. This is one of the very very few rthings that the ECHR has got right, in my opinion.

  2. Have to agree with JuliaM here. When the DNA database was introduced, my force asked every officer if they would submit their DNA so as to add to the database for `crime scene elimination purposes`. I refused, but stated that if my elimination from an investiation was proved necessary, then I would co-operate, in exactly the way if my fingerprints were required, although they took mine when I joined in 1971. I got those back when I retired. They can have my DNA in the unlikely event I am arrested on suspicion of a crime or it is required, reasonably, for proven elimination purposes – and I will bloody well want the sample back when acquitted.

  3. I was never offered my fingerprints back. I’m aware of these partial arguments (partial in the sense of incomplete). They aren’t good enough and seem fixed in some very old notions of justice. I share the concerns in them, but believe many of the problems in our justice shystem (perhaps no typo?) lie in false understandings of human rights.

    I don’t do crime, so have no substantial fears about my details being in the system. So my questions would be about whether the technology is reliable (I can say from my own laboratory work that it is, though CSI inflates what can be done) and whether there would be sustained detection advantages and deterrence.
    When it comes to what Julia is saying I can agree all the fears, but still not see them as good reasons not to have a ‘total database’ – at least of men. Where there is DNA evidence, it sort of eliminates the erst of us from ‘collective feminist blame’.
    I don’t mean to argue in detail here. What depresses me is not Julia’s well-judged concerns (or Hoggie’s worries some witches might get his spittle?), but the way we don’t work these arguments out in practical detail.
    Have your identity stolen and some wuckfits moved in around your house and then tell me the ‘human rights tale’. At the same time, we have to think of a bunch of ‘Julia’s cops’ loading baton rounds on criticism from an old lady who can’t get them to do anything about the druggie-noise-scum next door (my experience has been much worse to be honest and I think is connected to GMP being so poor). My point is we don’t seem capable of meeting the first rule of argument and getting as many facts as we can to examine all possibilities. I’m highly suspicious of State intervention, but we also can’t expect the Magnificent Seven to ride in (sadly in a way).

    Jumping ahead from my consideration that we are probably arguing from false premises in social debates, I suspect we need to bring a new discipline to bear on the criminal underclass in a way that doesn’t screw the rest of us.

  4. “I don’t do crime, so have no substantial fears about my details being in the system.”

    I don’t do crime, so consider it a monstrous imposition that the system thinks my details should be in the database just in case… 😉

  5. “…I suspect we need to bring a new discipline to bear on the criminal underclass in a way that doesn’t screw the rest of us.”

    Humans are fallible, so it’s not so much that a perfect system is put in place (it’s an impossibility, frankly) as that when things go wrong, a proper apology and a real ‘learning of lessons’ is carried out.

    What we have at the moment is a fear of doing anything, even in relation to an obvious screw-up, that might call down the wrath of the lawyers and com-pen-say-shun merchants.

    Thus, the sort of cock-up that could be tackled with a fulsome apology and a bunch of flowers from petty cash tends to go full on, straight-to-Defcon 3 because no-one wants to admit ‘Yes, we should have/shouldn’t have…’

  6. I still agree Julia. I remember being told our NI numbers would never be used to track us down!

    What interests me is why we are so reluctant to use a range of detection devices that would help us stop some obviously hideous offenders, from scumbag druggie-thieves and on to the rapists and sickos. If this is to protect our human rights, we clearly infringe those of victims and potential victims. This is typical of the terrain.
    One can imagine a total solution – say being asked every morning whether one had done anything wrong by a polyscan test we couldn’t cheat. Not too unlike other confession devices we can. Would we only decide our liberalism against this wrong when enslaved in the devil’s lair? We dump very nasty people amongst the poor where they won’t hurt us, nit exactly high morality.
    My point is that human rights as we conceive them don’t answer the questions many think they do.

    Forensics were only any use in case presentation when I was an investigator, but now people completely off the radar can be brought in by DNA and other techniques. In a way, I favour death penalties, but don’t trust our legal systems to get the right people. I favour new forms of investigation and discipline, but lack trust they won’t be abused.

    It seems to me, if we did make new moves to handle our massive social problems, we’d need countervailing protections.

    One example I’d give is that I’d collapse legal aid. We pay for it, but would never get it. The scrotes do, and often get off simply because they can. Victims actually find themselves paying for their tormentors defence and unable to afford representation themselves. My point, of course, is outing the contradictions and not rushing to take sides, might help us reframe the problems.

    We have brought in new discipline against scrotes in the form of introductory and demoted tenancies, which allow their ‘eviction’ without recourse to courts. When it comes to familial DNA I’m pretty sure as an investigator all I’d need was the identity clue to get on with observations etc. to get evidence that would be legal. I’m actually worried it is already far too common to fit people up through forensics.

    My actual concerns are more about finding the openness and accountability that would make our agencies better. I think they are too dumb and up-themselves, and broadly incompetent. I believe many of our fears about new techniques are actually to do with this.

  7. Oddly enough I was told the exact opposite about our National Insurance numbers, by a cop, my uncle. He told me that the victims of paedophiles in high places could be tracked down in adult life, wherever they were, via the Health and Social Care System. NI records especially, because everyone had to either work and have an active file with the taxman, or be claiming welfare. The only escape from that would be to “drop out” of the system.

    NHS medical and Social Services records were another tool for the vile rogues within the system to abuse, to track down past victims and survivors, who may have spilled the beans in adulthood about their traumatic experiences of childhood sexual abuse. Not exactly what those idealist who instigated the NHS and the welfare state had in mind in 1948 methinks!

    I have to agree with all of Julia’s comments on this one about the DNA database. It isn’t the magic bullet some would claim it to be. It has been used to find a convenient “culprit” on a few occasions because of media pressure, and the DNA was circumstantial evidence only.
    Innocent people could find themselves “fitted up” by cops who were keen to get a detection…..The McCanns.

    I believe that a national database containing the DNA of everyone, which the NHS may be sneakily developing and keeping it quiet, is a very dangerous idea. The state assuming rights, power and control over the individual, quite frankly is the road to hell for a “free people”.
    If this is happening within the NHS, the medical profession need to be reined in on this abuse of power, as a “partner agency” they freely share info with others.

    The Human Rights Act isn’t there to “answer questions”. It is there to ensure that free subjects [and citizens] are not abused by agents of the state, and visa versa.
    It is there to encourage good attitudes, mutual respect and the good behaviour of individuals towards others.
    It’s a given that this may take some time!

    We, as British subjects are innocent until proven guilty, so why assume that the vast majority of females are femminists or “witches” after hoggie’s spittle?
    Why suggest that every male should have his DNA on the database? Not every female is a femminist witch and not every male is a violent murdering rapist.

    New Labour did a dis-service to the people of this country when they introduced the mindset of the assumption of guilt into the working practices of many state employees. That was a complete contradiction of our existing law AND the Human Rights Act legislation they passed.

  8. Aw! Mrs. Magoo – a bleeding heart liberal after all! It was government people who promised NI numbers would never be used other than for health or pension reasons. We all knew they were lying at the time.
    If you visited Magistrates’ Courts as often as I do you would not believe innocent until proven guilty! The liars with briefs get off; otherwise you get done. The long list of miscarriages I’m compiling indicates that once cops and prosecution have their teeth in they will do all sorts to fit up people.
    The HRA is of no practical purpose for most people and protects the dead better than the living. It’s typical of vague legislation that will only help the rich. The other classic is judicial review.

    Cops could already fit you up via fingerprint evidence and this is known to have happened. I already suspect a blackmail ring concerning young prostitutes and false rape allegations involving DNA ‘deposits’ taken from condoms.
    If you can’t see why every male should be on a database there’s little I can say and,of course, most women are not feminists, though my partner most certainly is,thank goodness.

    The first use of ‘DNA evidence’ actually involved asking all local men to give specimens. The guy was caught because he got a mate to turn up for him (1983).

    These ‘arguments’ against are old and ill-informed, set in genuine fears of bent cops and false prosecutions that already affect our liberties.

  9. It’s a fair cop “Champ”….you got me sussed! I must have let my guard slip. Did someone see me “hugging a tree”?
    Yes, I am a realistic compassionate Liberal minded, free spirited, free thinking, but when necessary, also slightly authoritarian woman, who believes that all men should have their own “shed”! 😉 Is that feminist?

    I wasn’t born when the welfare state was created in 1948, but no surprises there that government deceived people.

    “Liars with briefs get off”…..no surprises there either!
    “once cops and prosecution have their teeth in they will do all sorts to fit people up”….again, no surprise!
    What do you mean Champ…”cops could already fit “you” [me?] up via fingerprint evidence”. What for? Or am I being “autistic” here and taking you too literally?

    No, I cannot see why every male should be on the DNA database. I think of how my own father would have felt about the state treating him like a criminal, when he wasn’t. I can understand the police and New Labour’s Orwellian argument for all the databases, including the one for DNA, however…..What they fail to take into account are the inevitable abuses of power that do happen by the minority of rogues within all the agencies.

    The arguments against may be old, but they are certainly not ill informed. They are accurate and valid, but cops who want an “easy” solution would no doubt want the DNA database to have everyone’s DNA on it. That’s Stalinist.
    Bent cops et al, have been a problem for decades, sadly.

    I’m not sure what you mean, by saying that the HRA protects the dead better than the living. How come?

  10. The actual use of forensic evidence is much more partial than we are led to believe by CSI and the general picture of our legal system. There are many cases across the world of bent and incompetent work, and even scientific problems with lack of proper peer scrutiny. The classic recent case in the UK is Nico Bento, convicted of a murder where the evidence pointed to suicide and then subject to an amazing fit up by cps and prosecution involving a mad forensic ‘expert’ and the suppression of evidence from real ones. Our own version of a dire forensic scientist was Frank Scuse (Birmingham Six). There are plenty of documented cases.
    I’d have to do a separate post on why the HRA cannot work.

  11. I think that the HRA is working for many people. The problem appears to be when it is mis-used by briefs to gain special consideration for terrorists, and others who seek to do harm in society. From what I read of it years ago, and I cannot now recall which article it was, [or where it is in all my clutter!] the HRA couldn’t be used by those who have been proven to have done harm to others, to protect themselves. That was my understanding of the HRA when it was passed into law by parliament.

    Perhaps the interpretation of the HRA by briefs and judges dealing with violent and dangerous individuals needs to be given clearer guidance and clarification.
    I have been puzzled on many occassions by press reports of the HRA being used to protect terrorists, as this must surely be a mistake.

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