Church leaders and community activists joined politicians in a packed meeting at the House of Common’s to learn about Government plans on the retention of innocent DNA set out in the Crime and Security Bill. Proposals within this Bill are set to allow the police to keep innocent DNA on the criminal DNA database for up to 8 years.
Organised by Black Mental Health UK in association with Gene Watch UK this meeting offered the only opportunity for both politicians and community leaders to learn about an injustice which has resulted in the DNA database criminalising every black family living in the UK.
With less than two months to go until the next general election the main political parties have begun to recognise the significance of the black electorate.
This event was hosted by James Brokenshire MP, shadow minister for crime reduction, neither the Government nor the Home Office accepted the invitations to attend this meeting.
Delegates at this meeting heard how it is not only innocent young black men who have fallen prey to being profiled on the DNA database.
The over policing of these communities has resulted in 42% of the black male population and 23% of black children between the ages of 10 and 16 compared to 10% of white children being profiled on this database.
There was a consensus at this meeting that the DNA database is now recognised as an election issue.
‘The DNA database has led to a wholesale assault on black people’s civil liberties. Those who are on it can be turned down for a visa or a job,’ Dr Helen Wallace director of Gene Watch UK said.
‘This has become an election issue as the community realise they cannot afford to give thier vote to government that would criminalise them,’ Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.
‘It’s never too late to decided that you want to work to see a change. One of the most effective ways to fight for change is through the ballot box,’ Winsome Cornish communications director at OBV said.
‘The DNA of innocent people should be removed in all instances, except where someone has been arrested for a serious or violent crime. This is our party’s commitment,’ James Brokenshire MP, shadow minister for crime reduction said.
‘The retention of innocent DNA on the criminal database is a travesty and a disgrace, it has no relation to crime and the way data is being collected is not accountable. The Liberal Democrats have made a commitment to delete the DNA records of anyone not convicted of a crime,’ Paul Holmes MP, Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman said.