A new low in the relationship between police and society

The big news of today is that the Government's very own DNA advisory body – the Human Genetics Commission – has said that the police are routinely arresting people simply to record their DNA profiles on the national database.

HGC In a report published today, Jonathan Montgomery, the commission chairman, said that “function creep” over the years had transformed a database of offenders into one of suspects.

He said that there was evidence that people were being arrested to retain their DNA information even though they might not have been arrested in other circumstances.

The report documents a retired senior police officer telling the commission “It is now the norm to arrest offenders for everything if there is a power to do so. It is apparently understood by serving police officers that one of the reasons…is so that DNA can be obtained.” He also said that the tradition of only arresting someone when dealing with serious offences had collapsed.

Alex Deane, Barrister and Director of Big Brother Watch, has said in response:

If true, this secret policy represents a new low in the relationship between the police and society.

The willingness to arrest people just to get their DNA, coupled with the Government's policy of retaining DNA samples from innocent people, means that a spurious arrest every half-dozen years can keep a completely blameless person on the database for life.

If ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ really applies, why aren't the police and government ministers all on the database?

By Dylan Sharpe