Mark Ballard, The Register (London), May 29, 2007
Half of all black British males are destined to become records on the police National DNA Database by 2010, according to an analysis of government figures by the Liberal Democrats.
If you count only men of an arrestable age, 68 per cent of them will have been nabbed and dabbed by the police by 2010. Just 14.4 per cent of white males are expected to be on the DNA database in the same time.
Liberal Democrat leader Menzies Campbell used the figures to raise a question about the “disproportionate” targeting of non-white people by police, or “racial profiling”, by which people’s behaviours are stereotyped according to the colour of their skin.
The extent of errors (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/05/17/dna_v_rozzers/) on the DNA database, and the number of children contained on it, are also problems that are putting the National Police Improvement Agency, the authority responsible for its upkeep, on the defensive.
The number of innocent children on the database has been a cause for concern among campaigners (http://www.genewatch.org/sub.shtml?als[cid]=539478) and the Conservatives (http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/05/11/kids_dna/).
In respect of children, the pertinence of the question of innocence has caused campaign group Action for Rights of Children to warn (http://www.arch-ed.org/issues/dna/pr220507.htm) how youngsters could be stigmatised by having a presence on the DNA database that marked them out as potential criminals.
Campbell called for all innocent people to be removed from the DNA database.
“There is absolutely no justification for keeping the DNA record of anyone who is not charged with an offence,” he said. “This arbitrary method of collecting DNA will alienate minority groups who already feel unjustly targeted,” he added.
Government figures (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm061213/text/61213w0010.htm#061213109000950) show there are 244,695 black British males on the DNA database, said the Libdems in a statement today. Using government estimates (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/cm060418/text/60418w75.htm#60418w75.html_spnew2) that there will be 4.5 million people on the DNA database in three years, official predictions (http://www.gad.gov.uk/Population/index.asp) of population growth and ethnicity (http://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_population/SMPS_67_v2.pdf)), the Libdems have predicted that there will be 288,652 black males on the database.
That’s 51.9 per cent of black males and 68 per cent of black males of an “arrestable age”.
There is, already, 45 per cent of the black British male population on the DNA database, according to the Libdem numbers.
Yet the predictions for the growing ethnicity of the DNA database might be underestimated. A total of 667,737 people were added (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200607/cmhansrd/cm070510/text/70510w0020.htm) to the DNA database last year (a similar number were added the previous year, almost 500,000 the year before and around 400,000 for the three consecutive years preceding that).
Yet the government forecast used by the Libdems reckons the database will have increased by only a quarter of a million people next year, about 300,000 the year after, and would only reach levels approaching 600,000 new additions in 2010.