These comments come as Gordon Brown has slammed the opposition party’s plans to remove innocent people from the criminal DNA database, during a campaign visit to Stevenage to see the mother of Sally Ann Bowman, whose killer was caught after his DNA was registered. Gene Watch UK have condemned as misleading the Prime Minister’s praise for the DNA database in this instance as Sally Anne’s murderer, Mark Dixie, was only caught because he was picked up in a pub brawl.
They point out that crimes brought to court following DNA matches (called ‘DNA detections’) have not increased since 2002/03, despite the DNA database more than doubling in size.
Changes in the Crime and Security Bill made this week mean that, innocents’ DNA will now be stored for a minimum of six years.
The disproportionate numbers of innocent people from Briton’s African Caribbean communities who are profiled on this system means that the DNA database has criminalised every black family in living in the UK.
Home office figures show 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.
Community leaders say that this has become an election issue for this group. They are concern over the way in which those profiled on the database are automatically treated as suspect in any future crime and can be turned down for a visa or a job.
With ethnic minorities holding the balance of power in over 90 constituencies, there is growing recognition that this issue is likely to be a deciding factor in next months general election.
‘The DNA database has effectively criminalised the whole of black Britain. The decision to allow innocent DNA to be stored on the database for a minimum of period of six years will be a deciding factor for this community when they go to the poll. They are unlikely to vote for a government whose policies have criminalised them,’ Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.
‘It would be a good idea for the government to rethink their position on the retaining innocent people on the DNA database as this will not serve Labour well in marginal seats where black voters are.
The decision to continue to store innocent DNA is not welcomed by the black churches, the majority of us are law abiding citizens, but this policy effects our community in a disproportionate way,’ Pastor Desmond Hall, chair of Christians Together in Brent said.
‘If you are innocent you shouldn’t be on a criminal database. The civil liberties of every member in our community will be affected by this: iit will mean that they have the same status as a criminal.
Those who are criminalised will automatically be marginalized and this will affect almost every aspect of a person’s life, from employment prospects to the ability to travel freely. When people begin to grasp the implications being on the database it will undoubtedly be a deciding factor when they go to the polls,’ Frederick Clarke director of Mighty Men of Valour said.