Consultation seminar alerts the community to how the DNA database has criminalised black Briton

Consultation seminar alerts the community to how the DNA database has criminalised black Briton

Human rights group, Black Mental Health UK and GeneWatch UK have organised a London seminar about the DNA database, hosted by the Policy Engagement Network, the Information and Innovation Group at the London School of Economics.

This event will run from 9.30am-12 noon on Friday 17th July 2009 in Room D402, Clement House, at the LSE, Aldwych.

Black communities, especially young black men, are over-represented on the National Criminal DNA Database, but often under-represented in debates about who should be on the database.

Currently 77 percent of young black men between the age of 18 and 35 have their DNA on the database. Three out of four black men living in the UK have their DNA on the database even though the Home Office’s research shows that this group have lower offending rates than their white counterparts.

This had led to concerns that the database has criminalised a whole community.
The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the current practice of retaining innocent DNA on the database indefinitely is illegal. In response to this the Home Office launched a public consultation on plans to retain innocent DNA on the database for up to 12 years.

Human rights group say that only DNA of those convicted of a crime should be kept on the database and all innocent DNA removed and destroyed. Little, if any information about this consultation has reached those who are affected by this issue, this half day seminar, which is free to attend is part of a move to address this.

Running 9.30am-12 on Friday 17th July, this event will equip delegates who attend with the essential information needed to be able take part in the Government ‘s consultation ‘Keeping the right people on the DNA database’, which runs until the 7th August 2009.

To register for this free event click here
Commenting on the importance of attending this event organisers said:
‘The DNA database was introduced as a resource for the police to keep the genetic profiles of those who have been convicted of a crime. Today there are 500,000 people on the database who have no current conviction, caution, formal warning or reprimand. Given this track record it is important to respond to this consultation, as there is no way of knowing what the consequences of being on this system will be for people in the future,’ Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.

‘The decision of the Minister to delay the deletion of records of people found innocent of certain crimes is unfortunate and does not take into account the disproportional effect that this will have on sections of society. A simple equality impact assessment would reveal that Black communities and Black men in particular are not being fairly treated with this decision. We hope that after hearing all the main points, the Minister will reconsider this position and move more in line with the European court ruling,’ – Olu Alake, President, 100 Black Men of London and chair of this seminar on the DNA database said.

‘The expansion of Britain’s DNA database to include hundreds of thousands of innocent people has a disproportionate effect on black communities. Young black men are much more likely than other groups to have records on the database. Black Britons now have a chance to have a say about their DNA and defend their rights,’ Dr Helen Wallace director of GeneWatch UK said.

‘Current practice has led to the criminalising of a whole community. We need to have an open and engaged debate on this issue and people need to be made aware of the database and how it is being used and what consequences this has,’ Dr Gus Hosein, visiting senior fellow in the Information and Systems and Innovation Group at the Department of Management at the London School of Economics said.

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