House of Commons symposium on DNA Databases impact on minority communities

House of Commons symposium on DNA Databases impact on minority communities

A symposium at the House of Commons on the over representation of innocent African Caribbean’s on the national criminal DNA database will be the subject of discussion on Monday 21st July from 7.00-800pm in committee room 5.

Open to the general public this meeting will look at why 57% of all innocent DNA in London taken from black people and community leaders are concerns that the National DNA Criminal Database is criminalising a community by stealth.

In a month that has seen the introduction of a private members Bill calling for the removal of all innocent people off the database, this public meeting, hosted by Sarah Teather MP, aims to raise awareness about and issue which touches the lives of every Black Briton in the UK.

Organised by the campaigns group Black Mental Health UK, in association with Gene Watch, 100 Black Men and Christian’s Together in Brent, this meeting represents the last opportunity to engage with Government over this issue before parliament’s summer recess.

This public meeting, which is open to the community, will also look at how innocent mental health patients have also been caught in the surveillance net.

Government figures show that 77% of young black men are on the database, compared with 9% of Asians and just 6%. of the white population. Findings from the Home Office offending report shows that black people are actually less likely to committed a crime than their white counterparts.

With over half a million names on the database either false, misspelt or incorrect, there are also concerns about the security of the data given the Government’s recent high profile data losses.

The UK has the largest National DNA Database in the world, with 4.5 million profiles set to be held by the Government by 2010. There are currently 500,000 people on the database who have no current conviction, caution, formal warning or reprimand.’If someone is black, their details are three times more likely to be stored on the database than if they are white.
In a world where much crime goes undetected, a small skewing of police behaviour leads to a large discrepancy in outcomes for different ethnic and racial groups… It is time we broke the cycle,’ Sarah Teather MP said.

‘We have to raise awareness about these issues in our churches, we are a critical mass who need to speak out with one voice as this needs to be addressed. Just being on that database suggests that you are involved in criminal activity.

These statistics suggestion is that black men are criminals and this is not the case. This goes against the original purpose of the database, which was to keep records of convicted criminals . Something needs to be done as the Government may change the rules on how this technology used which may go against us in the future’, Bishop Wayne Malcolm Christian Life City Chair in Hackney East London.

‘If you want the BME communities to trust the police and the establishment then they must be open and transparent. What are the reasons for storing such large numbers of innocent peoples DNA? It undermines community cohesion and a lot of good work that has been done . This has to be dealt ,’ Pastor Desmond Hall, Christian Together in Brent’The original intention was to keep the DNA of criminals who have been convicted of a crime, what is purpose behind compiling such a large database?
This in no way helps with community cohesion. In fact to learn that 77% of young black men already have their DNA on this database even though a large percentage of them have never committed a crime in their lives does the opposite,’ Pastor Ade Omooba Coherent and Cohesive Voice said.

‘All too often people find themselves on the database after a simple caution with no idea how to get off it. The same way it is easy to get on it, is the same way it should be easy to get off.

Who knows what all this DNA will be used for?. There needs to be a lot more publicity about the DNA database because, the injustices that we have seen in the past could well be repeated through the misuse of this technology as the historic injustices have not been dealt with,’ Rev Paul Grey, New Testament Church of God, Nuneaton.

‘It is a travesty that we have to lobby our government and lawmakers to take action to protect the innocent and some of the most vulnerable groups in society.

This database poses a real threat to community cohesion and good social relations. The Government now need to take this issue seriously and change the law to address this situation as a matter of urgency’. – Olu Alake, president, 100 Black Men of London.

‘The recent massive expansion of the DNA database is not helping to solve more crimes, but rather threatening the rights o those who have been arrested and have their DNA on the database indefinitely.
Your DNA is unique to you and it also contains personal information about your health so that there is a potential danger for abuse if anyone as to infiltrate the system where this data is stored.

WE need to see regulation that removes innocent people from the database and safeguards to protect this information from misuse’ Dr Helen Wallace, director of Gene Watch said. ‘The surveillance measures introduced by the Government to protect society from crime should not instead begin to oppress society.

We need to see the removal of the DNA of all innocent people from the database anything less raises questions to the reasons behind for the need for all this data in the place,’ Matilda MacAttram, director Black Mental Health UK.

The Symposium on the National DNA Database and African Caribbean communities free to attend and is open to the public, from 7.00 – 8.00pm on Monday 21st July in Committee Room 5, House of Commons, Westminster.

To register yourself a friend or member of your family to attend e-mail

For interviews call BMH UK Newsdesk on : M: 07852 182 750
Notes to the editor
•· Black Mental Health UK is a human rights campaigns group established to address the over representation of African Caribbean’s within secure psychiatric care and raise awareness to address the stigma associated with mental health.

•· African Caribbean’s are 50% more likely to enter the system via the criminal justice system or the police. 44% more likely to be sectioned, 29% more likely to be forcibly restrained, 50% more likely to be placed in seclusion and make up 30% of in patients on medium secure psychiatric wards despite having similar rates of mental illness as British white people.
Statewatch reported that black men were six times more likely to be stopped and searched than white men and Asian men twice as likely, under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984. Under the Terrorism Act (2000), the number of stop and searches of Asian people had risen by 285 per cent and by 229 per cent for black people.

•· 14 per cent of all stop and searches were of black people – even though they make up just 3 per cent of the residential population and 7 per cent of the street population.

•· BMH UK is calling for all individuals who have not been convicted of any crime to have their details removed from the National DNA register.
•· BMH UK support the Liberal Democrats campaign calling for the removal of all innocent people from the NDNAD.

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