Another DNA Database U-Turn

First the Coalition ditched its commitment to reforming the DNA database and now the Home Office is handing over access to very sensitive personal information to police forces across Europe.

Despite more than a million innocent people’s DNA remaining on the database, and huge concerns around the operation of extradition law, the Coaltion has indicated it will implement the 2008 Prum Treaty. You might share our surprise at this, given that in opposition then Tory shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve warned: ‘There is a real risk that a disproportionate number of innocent British citizens will be sucked into foreign criminal investigations.’

Prum is described as a ‘fast-track’ scheme to allow European states to ask another state to check a DNA sample against their database and pass on the results.

A fast-track scheme is how the European Arrest Warrant was described, only for it to be grossly abused at the expense of the liberty of British people. This is yet another risk to our rights to a fair trial, in the name of European compliance.

The news comes days after it emerged a teenager has spent three months in jail for an offence he didn’t commit after a DNA database mix up.  The Daily Mail has reported how the nineteen year old was found guilty of rape, in a city that he had never visited, after his DNA sample was mixed with that of the attacker’s.

Adam Scott had provided a swab of DNA for an unrelated crime that had been sent to a laboratory run by LGC Forensics, one of three forensic firms in the UK used specifically for DNA crime-scene testing.  The firm handles thousands of samples of DNA on behalf of police forces around the country and it is feared that this case could only be the first of many DNA mix-ups that have occurred.

Following up the protestations of having never visited the city that the offence took place they questioned LGC Forensics who insisted that there was a definite match.  Mr Scott was subsequently sentenced to three months on remand before beginning a year-long sentence following conviction for his original charge.  The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has formally dropped the case against the teenager since it came to light that the evidence had been contaminated.

Now imagine the same mix up takes place abroad. Suddenly a British citizen could be extradited under such evidence. Those familiar with the gross injustices resulting from the abuse of the European Arrest Warrant system will be all to wary of this scheme.

As highlighted by Dominic Raab MP, “Britain has not suffered from being out of this pan-European data sharing regime. But, if we opt in, with a million innocent people’s DNA on our police database and a 67 per cent error rate under the EU scheme, more and more UK citizens risk finding themselves mistakenly dragged into criminal investigations abroad.“

A Home Office spokesman insisted: ‘The only DNA records that would be shared under the new system are those relating to individuals with convictions, either in the UK or overseas.’

Well, watch this space. Big Brother Watch is currently finalising research that will cast new light on the truth behind the Coalition’s claims on the DNA Database.