Human Genetics Commission’s DNA database report welcomed by civil liberties campaigners

Human Genetics Commission

The Human Genetics Commission’s condemnation of the discriminatory nature of the DNA database has been welcomed by civil liberties groups.

Black Mental Health UK say that the findings in their latest report, published today, have put the spotlight on the way the DNA database discriminates against young black men.

Entitled, ‘ Nothing to hide, nothing to fear,’ the HCG report has added weight to the concerns voiced by civil liberties groups over the way the DNA database has criminalised ethnic minority communities living in the UK.

Black Mental Health UK point out it is not only innocent young men from African Caribbean communities who have been ensnared by the ‘function creep’, of the DNA database.
Home office statistics show that 27 % of the entire black population are on the national criminal DNA database compared to 10% of British white people.

The DNA database currently holds the profiles of 42 % of the male black population and 77 % of young black men even though Home Office research shows that this group have lower offending rates than their white counterparts.

Children from African Caribbean communities have not fared any better. Current policing methods have led to almost one out of four black children (23%) and one out of ten white children (10%) being profiled on this system.
The purpose of the police retaining DNA is so that those who are profiled on the system will be treated as suspects in any future crime. DNA profiles can be used to track an individual or their relatives.
With at least one member of every family from this community profiled on the system, the DNA database has effectively criminalised every Black family Britain.

‘HGC chair Prof Jonathan Montgomery’s comments that occasionally people are arrested in order to retain the DNA even though they might not have been arrested in other circumstances, resonates with many in the community. This type of policing has damaged community relations.

We need to see ministerial commitment to remove and destroy all innocent DNA from the database. It is likely to be the only way that people from this community would support a future Labour government. With just six months to go until a general election, now would be a good time for the government to start to rebuild this community’s trust,’ Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.

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