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Police making arrests just to get DNA?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009
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This story is covered in the Guardian, Times and New Statesman today as a result of an independent report into the DNA database.

It has several useful applications for students:

1. The story is a good illustration of how the law on arrest has changed following SOCPA 2005 which amended s24 PACE to make ANY offence arrestable as long as (very wide) “necessary criteria” (under s110 SOCPA) are met. The result of this appears, according to one former senior police officer interviewed for the report, that the police are simply arresting for almost any offence, however trivial - a sharp contrast with the law pre-SOCPA with its categories of arrestable and non-arrestable offences.
2. The story makes a good criticism of police powers for students to raise, as the suggestion is that arrests are being made just to get as many people’s DNA on the database as possible. Also, there are concerns that more than three quarters of those on the database aged 18-35 are young black men, which seems disproportionate.
3. It’s a good starting point for a wider discussion about police powers and the need to balance liberty and security.

As a follow up, here is a video of Mark Thomas explaining what he had to do to get his DNA removed from the database after being arrested without charge.


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