BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday programme looks at how the DNA database has criminalised black Briton

BBC Radio Ulster

The rarely debated issue of the over representation of innocent people from African Caribbean communities whose genetic profiles are currently held on the Home Office’s national criminal DNA database will be the subject of discussion on BBC radio’s Sunday Sequence programme, on the 10th May 2009, from 8.30 – 10.15am.

Hosted by William Crawley, this weekend’s show can be heard live by tuning into BBC Radio Ulster 92-95Fm and can also be accessed on digital radio and online.

Examining this week’s great debates about faith, ethics and culture, Sunday’s guest Matilda MacAttram, director of Black Mental Health UK, will be discussing the over representation of innocent black Briton’s whose profile are currently held on the database in light of the Home Secretary’s announcement this week of plans to continue to retain innocent DNA for up to 12 years.

Listeners will hear how the European Court on Human Rights ruled in December 2008 that the Home Office’s current practice of retaining the genetic profiles of innocent citizens contravenes the Human Rights Act.

The government’s latest plans to retain the DNA profiles of close to a million people has led to calls from church leaders and minority community groups to see the European Court ruling fully implemented and all innocent profiles removed from the database and destroyed.
Current methods of policing black communities has led to a racial bias in the database which now contain the profiles of over one third of black men living in the UK even though this group have lower offending rates than their white counterparts.

Currently 77% of young black men aged between 15 and 34 are also on the database and 57% of innocent DNA taken in London alone comes from African Caribbean Communities.

‘The way DNA has been collected means that every black family in the UK has a member of their household on the database, this is a very serious issue as this has effectively criminalised a whole community.
To see that so many of our young men, who have never been convicted of any crime, on a national criminal database is disturbing. It does little for community relations and raises questions as to why this group have been targeted in this way.

Black Church leaders as well as community and civic leaders have condemned this as unacceptable. To see this kind of unethical practice in country that has ratified the Human Rights Act does not bode well,’ Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said.

Tune into BBC Radio Ulster 92-95Fm Sunday Sequence programme, on the 10th May 2009, from 8.30 – 10.15am to learn more about one of the most significant issues facing black Britons today.

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