Author Topic: Would YOU freely offer a DNA sample  (Read 2747 times)

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Offline Weebleman

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Would YOU freely offer a DNA sample
« on: December 23, 2014, 10:47:37 AM »
I've searched through several very old threads relating to the DNA database  but thought I'd start a new one to see if anyone knows what the current situation is regarding the taking and maintaining the criminal DNA database.
To cut a long story short, way back in 1967 OutOfTowner and me (along with a couple hundred others) were interrogated by the Police concerning a particularly nasty rape/murder, which still remains unsolved. Of course we were/are both totally innocent; however we've recently heard that a new team reviewing the case wants to obtain a DNA sample from everyone that was originally interviewed in order  to 'eliminate them from their inquiries'. Obviously advances in DNA technology is kicking in here regarding material obtained during the original investigation.

Now OOT, being the good upstanding citizen that he is, sees no problem with this. I have no problem with giving a sample, but do have concerns about what happens once it gets onto the database-- e.g. the length of time it's held and the purposes it's put to.

So, as a point of discussion does anyone here share my concerns? And if anyone on here has any legal involvement I'd be interested in their opinions.



Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Would YOU freely offer a DNA sample
« Reply #1 on: December 23, 2014, 12:46:00 PM »
I don't have a view on whether you or OOT should, (or not), voluntarily give a DNA sample, but I do have views on the ongoing retention of voluntarily given samples.

The phrase "Eliminate them from their inquiries" sometimes intimates to individuals that they will be under suspicion if they don't submit themselves to testing. 

Personally speaking I think helping to identify the perpetrators of such crimes ought to be encouraged as a socially responsible (and good) thing to do, rather than the current (socially negative) method of pressurising people into 'helping the police' by suggesting that they are "eliminating themselves from inquiries", and therefore are under suspicion until they do submit to testing.  This method is less voluntary than it is coercive but persists because it exploits a general lack of awareness (and possibly interest) in the finer legal, moral and ethical implications for the individuals concerned.

I would be more inclined to give a sample voluntarily if:

A: The incentive to do so was positive - "Let's catch the perp together"

B: My voluntary sample will not be retained indefinitely.

C: I trusted the Government

I don't 'know' this for certain, but I suspect the hope here is that a familial connection to the perp, (detected from large scale testing), will lead to a breakthrough but that the hoped-for breakthough may not occur because people don't like to be generally regarded (even en-masse) as potential suspects and therefore remain disincentivised to the point where they see not helping the Old Bill as a bigger thing than helping the victims of crime - and especially so when their biometric data is kept indefinitely for use by the Police and whomsoever the Government might wish to give or sell it to - the idea that Insurance companies have a 'right' to access confidential medical data and DNA data is still afloat in Westminster, kept so by commercial lobbyists.


In 2010, the newly elected Coalition Government pledged to make changes to the DNA retention regime and the changes were included in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.

I don't believe that the new regime for data retention has been introduced.

The 2012 Act also provides for the destruction of DNA samples and profiles already retained under the current regime. Secretary of State guidelines will be issued once the relevant provisions come into force but, as I've said, I don't think the new regime has been introduced and, even if it is introduced, I understand that there are many exemptions.

At present then, I wouldn't be inclined to give a sample voluntarily because:

A: The incentive to do so is not positive -  "Eliminate me from enquiries" isn't sufficient - I know I haven't done anything wrong

B: I believe that my voluntary sample will be retained indefinitely even though I, and the police, know I haven't done anything wrong.

C: I really do not (yet) trust the Government with my biometric data.


The sad possibility remains, (although it is very remote possibility), that my DNA could provide a familial and useful link in any number of inquiries but I very much doubt I'd submit voluntarily to sampling.

Offline Phil Chitty

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Re: Would YOU freely offer a DNA sample
« Reply #2 on: December 23, 2014, 02:44:08 PM »
The provisions of the 2012 Act came into force a year ago.

Blanket retention was ruled illegal by the ECHR in 2008.

Offline Muggins

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Re: Would YOU freely offer a DNA sample
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2014, 05:47:45 PM »
I can't see any reason why I wouldn't co-operate. 

I would rather have a 'she didn't do it' on any record, than 'she wouldn't co-operate' on that record.

Someone was raped/murder, it's up to us to help however we were asked or whatever happened afterwards.

We would be doing the right thing.

Others in keeping specimens (if you minded them being kept) etc. would be doing the wrong thing.
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline Outoftowner

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Re: Would YOU freely offer a DNA sample
« Reply #4 on: December 23, 2014, 06:04:34 PM »
I don't trust the government either and will see about how long any sample is kept once I have been ruled out. The lesson to this and any other British politician from central Government right down to some Parish Councils is, that they are not trusted people! (Separate thought, while I'm at it. Maybe all politicians should have their DNA on record? That would solve a few crimes!!!)
What's it all about?

Offline Muggins

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Re: Would YOU freely offer a DNA sample
« Reply #5 on: December 23, 2014, 06:33:51 PM »
Politicians give their DNA?

You mean lead by example (or sample)?  There's joke here somewhere Outer.
Oi! Listen mush. Old eyes, remember? I’ve been around the block a few times. More than a few. They’ve knocked down the blocks I’ve been around and rebuilt them as bigger blocks. Super blocks. And I’ve been round them as well.  The Doctor (Night Terrors)

Offline helen thompson

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Re: Would YOU freely offer a DNA sample
« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2014, 06:43:15 PM »
I have no problem with my DNA ,the security services all ready probably have it as I have security clearance. I  do have a problem with my medical data as I am a transsexual any data from my medical records being sold on etc which I believe may happen, would not be legal under the gender laws at present time.

Offline Outoftowner

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Re: Would YOU freely offer a DNA sample
« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2014, 08:56:16 PM »
What kind of security clearance required a DNA sample Helen?
I didn't have to give one. Short changed again!
What's it all about?

Offline Tobes

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Re: Would YOU freely offer a DNA sample
« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2014, 09:26:01 PM »
Helen, basic security clearance will mean you've been crb'd and probably financially checked. It certainly won't involve a secret DNA record - unless you have agreed to one. Taking DNA without informing you would be against the law in itself. In fact, your supposition that it might have happened ( and your apparent lack of concern ) are worrying enough in themselves about what citizens have come to expect from a secret service which is supposed to be protecting civil liberty, rather than riding rough-shod over it.

1. Contrary to popular belief, DNA is NOT infallible. The fact that it is treated as inviolable by judges and juries - even when it's been misused, shows how it isn't a lazy silver bullet obviating the need for good detective work

2. Like Geoff, I share serious doubts about the trustworthiness of any current or prospective uk government to act within its democratic mandate.

... so I would refuse to give my DNA I'm afraid, unless I could have concrete assurances it was only being used for the specific purpose of investigating this offence. But caveat that, Geoff point about this kind of policing over-turning the presumption of innocence still stands, so even then, I'd need to hear a very convincing case from plod.

At the end of the day, there are far too many examples of the use of DNA for fishing expeditions - and once you're on that database, you'll have no control over how your identity might be used or misused in the future.

On that basis and for the purposes you've described, with the level of info (or lack of) that they've given you, I'd definitely say no.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2014, 10:22:48 PM by Tobes »
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Offline Geoff Reid

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Re: Would YOU freely offer a DNA sample
« Reply #9 on: December 24, 2014, 12:56:59 AM »
The provisions of the 2012 Act came into force a year ago.

Blanket retention was ruled illegal by the ECHR in 2008.


Quite right :)  serve me right for keeping an out of date Liberty url in my favourites  :santa_embarassed:

Here's the relevant 2013 Home Affairs briefing note from the House of Commons library regarding the new regime for the Retention of fingerprints and DNA data.

I've not scanned it thoroughly but haven't seen any reference to the retention rules concerning voluntary samples.

Offline Donian

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Re: Would YOU freely offer a DNA sample
« Reply #10 on: December 24, 2014, 10:32:55 AM »
Two things come to mind that are kind of related to this discussion..

The Phantom of Heilbronn

Dont Talk to Police (American but interesting)

Offline Weebleman

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Re: Would YOU freely offer a DNA sample
« Reply #11 on: December 24, 2014, 03:54:58 PM »
The provisions of the 2012 Act came into force a year ago.

Blanket retention was ruled illegal by the ECHR in 2008.


Quite right :)  serve me right for keeping an out of date Liberty url in my favourites  :santa_embarassed:

Here's the relevant 2013 Home Affairs briefing note from the House of Commons library regarding the new regime for the Retention of fingerprints and DNA data.

I've not scanned it thoroughly but haven't seen any reference to the retention rules concerning voluntary samples.


Thanks to everyone for your input and raising some interesting points.

Muggins (and others): I agree that if it helps in any way to catch the perpetrator then there's no question of not providing a sample. Especially as I understand that some time ago the case was being possibly linked to two other similar cases that took place in the area a couple years later.

Helen: During my time in the forces (and since) I have been security cleared at various levels, but never been asked for DNA samples. Although that's not to say my coffee cup wasn't swabbed post interview -- some of those spooks are scary :)

Geoff: I came across that document and others while searching the net yesterday, and I agree with you that there's plenty of info around concerning your rights if you have been arrested OR charged in connection with an offence (3 years retention unless subject to special circumstances seems to be the givenconsensus). But I've found no concrete rules for samples taken voluntarily.... opinion seem to vary between 3 weeks and 3 years.

So the fact still remains that I've still found nothing that gives me any confidence in the current system even though I'll probably partake if asked.

Season's greetings to all.

Offline helen thompson

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Re: Would YOU freely offer a DNA sample
« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2014, 06:04:36 PM »
Weebleman my clearance was police clearance  and I could read secret documents, the spooks did have  a say in it and took some time to get it .not sure if my DNA was took but i do  not trust them anymore, i did when i was visiting prisons but not sure now