Human Genetics Commission call for radical overhaul of the DNA database welcomed by faith and community leaders

Human Genetics Commission call for radical overhaul of the DNA database welcomed by faith and community leaders

Church leaders have joined campaigns group Black Mental Health UK in welcoming the findings of the Human Genetics Commission (HGC) Citizens’ Inquiry into DNA database calling for the removal of all innocent DNA from the criminal database and for an independent body to replace the Home Office and Police as custodians of the database.

Responding to the HGC recommendations Matilda MacAttram, director Black Mental Health UK said: ‘the Human Genetics Commission has done excellent work in allowing people to have their say on the expansion of the database.

The acknowledgment of the concerns that community leaders have over the disproportionate numbers innocent people of African Caribbean origin has to date largely been ignored. This is especially worrying given that 57% of all innocent DNA taken in London comes from this group. We look forward seeing the removal of all innocent DNA from the database as it really shouldn’t have been there in the first place.’

Pastor Ade Omooba of Coherent and Cohesive Voice said: ‘processes surrounding this database have to be transparent, right now many people do not even know if they are on it or not. The HCG suggestions of a campaign to raise awareness about this a good thing. I support calls to take all responsibility for the database away from the police and the Home Office, given the recent data losses we have seen of child benefit records, and sensitive security intelligence which was left on a train.

‘This database has led to the wholesale criminalizing of our communities . With 77% of our young men already on it and over half the innocent DNA on the database having been taken from our communities, the way in which it was being used was effectively undermining all the work the churches are doing to foster community cohesion.

We applaud the Human Genetics Commissions recommendations that all innocent people should be removed from the database and an independent body outside of the police become the custodians of the database. This could not have come sooner ,’ Pastor Desmond Hall, chair of Christians Together in Bent said.

‘The HGC recommendations are welcome because this information in the wrong hands is far worse than any of the high profile data losses we have recently seen. The implications for those using mental health services have not really been addressed at all, there are a lot of people who were unwell who are on the database and don’t know it.
Lack of knowledge about this database and how it has been used has led to millions of innocent people being added to it without any sort of co-ordinated reponse from the Church.
We welcome recommendations about an awareness raising campaign because people need to know more about this before they will even know if their civil liberties are being infringed.,’ Pastor Rev Paul Grey of New Testament Church said.

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