New opinion poll questions data of innocent mental health patients on Criminal DNA database records

New opinion poll questions data of innocent mental health patients on Criminal DNA database records

Human rights group, Black Mental Health UK (BMH UK) have launched an new poll to gauge public opinion on the practice of retaining the genetic profiles of mental health patients who have not been convicted of a crime on the national criminal DNA database.

The online survey, launched by the campaigns group this week, is encouraging people add their views on an issues that will effect one in four people likely in their lifetime and comes as there is increasing concern that innocent people will inadvertently be caught in the growing criminal database net.

The polls comes after a meeting with politicians, health experts ane community leaders this week, organised by BMH UK, to discuss concerns about the growing numbers of innocent people from minority communities who have found their details stored on the criminal database against their will.

With referrals rates of African Caribbean’s to mental health services from the police and criminal justice system almost double that of their white counterparts, there are concerns that thousands of vulnerable patients are being criminalised through this process.

Currently anyone cautioned or even stopped and searched by the police will have their DNA taken as standard procedure. This has led to an exponential increase in the numbers of people who have not been convicted of any crime having their details added to the database, which was originally introduced as a means of storing the genetic profiles of convicted criminals.

Currently 55% of African Caribbean men, who are on the database, have not been convicted of any crime.

Government figures suggest that by 2010, 77% of young black men will have their details held on the database; this is despite this group being less likely to have committed a crime than their white counterparts.

Health campaigners are concerned that this may include mental health service users who will, then, be further marginalised.

Recent research published by the national charity Rethink showed that public attitudes toward people who have used mental health service are at best uninformed and often acts as a barrier to people reintegrating back into society.

Health experts say that having one’s DNA added to a criminal database in the process of accessing health care is detrimental to a patient’s well being may hinder a patient recovery and reintegration back into society.

‘The way the National DNA criminal database has been used means that now anyone can find themselves on it. With one in four people likely to be affected by mental illness within their lifetime this is something that could affect any family in the UK.

What we do not want to see happening it that those already on the margins of society further discriminated with by practice of adding DNA of patients who have not committed any crime to a database used for profiling criminals is not addressed.

Visitors to our site adding their opinion to this poll will allow us to more accurately gauge what the public feeling is on this issue,’ Matilda MacAttram, director of Black Mental Health UK said.

Click on the link below to add your opinion:

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