The provisions set out in the Protection of Freedom Bill have dealt a death blow to the database state and heralds moves that campaigners hope will end a regime that effectively criminalised the whole of Black Briton.
DNA samples of innocent people have been taken from every section of the UK’s African Caribbean community including children. BMH UK’s three year campaign calling for the removal of innocent DNA from the criminal database brought to the nation’s attention that 42% of the entire black male population and 77% of all young black men are profiled on the database, even though people from this group are less likely to commit a crime than their white counterparts.
The previous Labour government allowed the DNA samples of innocent people to be stored on the criminal database indefinitely. Those profiled on this database are automatically treated as a suspect in any future crime and can also be turned down for a visa or a job.
This Bill will change that and also benefit mental health service users from the community and volunteer workers wanting to work with them.
The present law has resulted in service users ending up on the database when they were in a crisis and were picked up by the police. People from the community who wanted to volunteer to their support to help this group were often hindered as it required mandatory clearance. These restrictions will be removed and police will be ordered to destroy all samples except for those linked to violent offences.
‘This Bill has effectively brought a halt to practices that have criminalised the whole of Black Briton, we welcome the planned changes but are aware that this Bill is only a start. We need to ensure that what this Government has committed to, does result in the restorations of our most basic rights and freedoms.’ Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.
‘We welcome this historic step to roll back the database state and encourage everybody whose is affected to input into these proposals to make sure they safeguard their rights and freedoms. This is a key issue for black Briton because black families and young black men in particular are the people who have been most affected,’ Helen Wallace director of GeneWatch UK said.
‘It’s what we’ve been calling for, for the past three years now and it is good that this new government has recognised that some of the existing stimulations around the DNA database are actually against European legislation. We hope this is the beginning of a new era of the state recognising respecting and valuing civil liberties and human rights. Olu Alake President of 100 Black Men of London said.
‘I think that this is excellent news, it is particularly good for those from our communities who have mental health problems that have been picked up by the police and their only crime is that they have been unwell, then they have ended up on the criminal database. It is good news to know that this will change,’ Alicia Spence services director of the African Caribbean Community Initiative in Wolverhampton said.
‘The plans set out in this new Freedom Bill are a victory for common sense and they vindicate the hard work that BMH UK has done in terms of championing of this cause. When this goes through parliament is will mean that people are less likely be a victim of injustices by a system that is meant to protect them,’ Bishop Llewellyn Grayahm, Church of God of Prophesy said.