These are the comfortable words – ones that will not, normally, alarm people, those words that do alarm are still there – national security, terrorism, all still in the arsenal of those who wish to bring them out for a dusting every now and again.
These soft words are now being used to convince people that retaining the DNA of the innocent is the right thing to do. It isn’t as any right thinking person knows – but as this government has shown, what right thinking people know – or, indeed, think – is of little consequence.
So what do you do if you, as an organisation, are in the news for all the wrong reasons – like the death of Ian Tomlinson?
You begin the PR machine with stories in the Guardian like the one linked to – justifying the unjustifiable.
DNA is a crucial investigative tool. Having read Sir Alec Jeffrey’s view on the DNA database in this morning’s Guardian there are many areas where I agree with him. It is an enormous privilege to be able to use DNA testing
This PR piece is all about, unsurprisingly, keeping the DNA of those on file who have had their DNA taken for spurious reasons and a matter of ‘Just in case’. Keep the DNA on file because you never know.
The decision about whether to remove the DNA of those who are yet to be convicted
Those not convicted are innocent – should that baby’s DNA be still on a database – just in case?
In the past the police have made the case to government for retaining these samples and they have agreed
The hard words of PR propaganda come at the end of the piece, that bit that people normally remember most – it’s a ploy used for aeons…
Our use of DNA evidence is one of the reasons murder conviction rates in the UK are significantly higher than those in the rest of the world. It helps ensure good detection, high conviction rates and a relatively low incidence of murder.
The principle of policing by consent is what makes the British police different to other police forces around the world. We are always accountable to the community for whom we provide a service. If the law compels us to remove the DNA of the unconvicted from the database then of course our job will become more difficult. The scale of the difference will take some time to see.
There is relatively low incidences of murder in the UK although the statistics given are not, well, quite what is said to be true, the UK is 14th on this list – but there was even before the DNA database, though you can look up the rates on a year on year basis. Is everyone who is on the database about to be convicted or charged with murder? I really don’t think so – but if you can throw that word, murder, one of the most heinous of words to British people – you can get them to read what you are saying. And that is what is wanted in this defence of keeping innocent people’s DNA.
Innocent isn’t as high on the chart of words that get the mind racing in the UK – although it should be. This is one of the myriad of reasons Britain should have a stronger feeling for civil liberties than it does.