Proposals believed to be in the Queen’s speech today, will introduce powers in a new Policing, crime and privacy security bill that will allow members of the public to be billed by law enforcement agencies, if they want to challenge a refusal to delete their DNA profiles in court.
Condemned as a DNA tax by civil liberties group, this proposal has shattered the community’s confidence in the Government’s handling of the DNA database. They say this latest move flies in the face of the ruling by the European Court of Human, which said that innocent samples should not be held.
Mental health experts say that charging people £200 in this current economic climate is prohibitive, and will stop innocent people from applying to get their DNA deleted from the database.
An Independent Police Complaints Commission report published this year showed that in just 12 months over 11,000 people needing mental healthcare had been detained in police custody. The majority of people are among the millions of innocents profiled on the criminal database.
‘We have seen the Home Office amass the profiles of over 5.1 million people and more than a million of these are from people who have not been convicted of any crime. This looks like a way to generate cash from innocent citizens, rather than uphold the European Court ruling, which called for all innocent DNA to be removed from the criminal database,’ Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.
‘I know that the most vulnerable people who use mental health services are likely to be on the database, but they will not be able to afford £200 it costs to appeal. The government know that the groups who will be most affected by this are the ones least able to pay to apply to have their DNA removed. This proposal is immoral,’ Alicia Spence, director of services at ACCI (African Caribbean Community Initiative) said.
‘The idea of innocent people having to pay to apply to have DNA is removed from the database flies in the face of justice. This is a way of taxing the innocent, and has grave consequences for mental health service users.
There are many people who have been picked up by the police when they were in crisis and have had their DNA taken, but have done nothing wrong. These new plans are contrary to the role that law enforcement agencies should be playing,’ mental health campaigner Rev Paul Grey of New Testament Church of God said.