Monday, August 10, 2009

ACPO advise police to ignore S & Marper ruling

The Guardian has reportedly seen a letter, from the Association of Chief Police Officers, telling chief constables to ignore the ruling in the European Court of Human Rights in the S. and Marper v UK case last December.
"Chief constables across England and Wales have been told to ignore a landmark ruling by the European court of human rights and carry on adding the DNA profiles of tens of thousands of innocent people to a national DNA database.

Senior police officers have also been "strongly advised" that it is "vitally important" that they resist individual requests based on the Strasbourg ruling to remove DNA profiles from the national database in cases such as wrongful arrest, mistaken identity, or where no crime has been committed.

European human rights judges ruled last December in the S and Marper case that the blanket and indiscriminate retention of the DNA profiles and fingerprints of 850,000 people arrested but never convicted of any offence amounts to an unlawful breach of their rights."

The letter alledgedly goes on to strongly advise that any individual requests to have their details removed from the databases should be resisted until the government can get round to legislating on the matter.

I'm not sure this letter actually says anything other than 'follow current procedures until we have new ones'. It is more an indicator of the emergent insanity of large bureuacracies than the machiavellian machinations of a government attempting to circumvent the European Court decision. That's not to say active attempts to get round the decision are not ongoing. I'm just not convinced this ACPO letter is anything other than bureaucracy behaving like... well... bureaucracy.

The bigger question, possibly, is how we can avoid a likely incoming Conservative government next year from being infected with the current government's 'cure it with a database' affliction. Where is the Jefferson's moose that will actually show policymakers the complete and utter wrongheadedness of the database state mentality?

Europeans, in Thomas Jefferson's time, considered the US to be vastly inferior in every way to Europe. The then famous French ecologist Compte de Buffon even widely proclaimed that all plant and animal life (including native Americans) in the US was inferior to European equivalents. In a effort to show de Buffon and other Europeans how wrong they were, when he was minister to France, Jefferson had a dead giant American moose transported across the Atlantic, stuffed and placed in the hall of his ministerial residence in Paris. He believed that anyone who saw this impressive moose - an animal so enormous that a European deer could walk under it - could not fail to be disabused of their ideas of the inferiority of U.S. natural history.

David Post has put this far more articulately than I am capable of doing but where is the Jefferson's moose for the database state, when even direct demonstrations of the insecurity of the systems that are being constructed result in a complete denial of the existence of a problem?

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