Coalition government u-turns on deletion of innocent DNA

BMH UK criticized the action; dubs it as disappointing
3rd August 2011: The human rights campaigns group Black Mental Health UK has criticized the coalition government’s volte-face on the deletion of innocent DNA.     
The criticism comes soon after a letter was written to a committee of MPs by Home Office Minister James Brokenshire MP. He confirmed the DNA profiles of those arrested, but not charged or convicted of any crime, will be retained by the forensic science laboratories in an anonymised form.

The minister agreed the move leaves open the possibility of connecting these profile with people’s names.

BMH UK warned the decision to go back on the commitment to delete the profile of over 1 millions innocent people will have a devastating impact on the UK’s African Caribbean communities.

The assertion stems from the fact that the Home office figures show  37 per cent of black men and 77 per cent of young black men, aged between 15 and 34, are estimated to be on the National DNA Database, even though this group do not have higher offending rates than their white counterparts.

BMH UK warns this decision will mean that the whole of the UK’s African Caribbean community will be criminalised by this system.

Matilda MacAttram director of Black Mental Health UK said the Home Office Minister’s decision is a betrayal of the commitment he made when he spoke directly to our communities, at a BMH UK parliamentary reception, back in 2010.

He said if elected his party would ensure that the Scottish model would be introduced, where only those convicted a crime or arrested for a serious offence are kept on the database.

This decision not only flouts the European Court ruling on innocent DNA, it also means mean that almost every black family in the UK will continue to be criminalised by this system. This will have a devastating impact on community relations.’

Olu Alake president of 100 Black Men of London said this was a most disappointing betrayal by the coalition government, as it is in direct contravention of several promises made by both the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives while in opposition.

This was particularly galling for the black community as it has been statistically shown that innocent black men are particularly disproportionately overrepresented in the DNA database.

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