Theresa May ‘Suppressed’ Home Office DNA Database Report, Say Labour

The Huffington Post reports:

Theresa May suppressed a Home Office report that found changes to the DNA database would make it harder to catch murderers and rapists, according to Labour.

The House of Commons is expected to pass the Protection of Freedom Bill on Monday. Under government’s plans only adults convicted or cautioned will have their DNA stored indefinitely. Those charged but eventually cleared will see their DNA stored for up to five years.

But Labour have said unpublished Home Office research showed that 23,000 people every year, who under Labour’s system would be on the DNA database but under government plans will not be, will commit further offences.

Labour also say the report showed 6,000 of those a year will go on to commit crimes including rape, murder and manslaughter.

The analysis of the Home Office report was conducted by the House of Commons library for shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper.

She said the initial report was given to crime minister James Brokenshire by officials in July 2010, but ministers then chose not to publish its findings.

3 thoughts on “Theresa May ‘Suppressed’ Home Office DNA Database Report, Say Labour

  1. andrew says:

    It’s very hard to reconcile the figures Labour quotes with the careful analysis of (for instance) Genewatch UK, which in January 2010 noted:

    GeneWatch UK has been unable to identify any murders that have been solved as a result of the retention of innocent people’s DNA profiles since 2001. We have examined every Parliamentary Question on DNA since 2005, all published reports, and the Government’s evidence to the European Court of Human Rights. A figure of zero solved murders to date as a result of retaining innocent people’s DNA profiles is consistent with our statistical analysis.

    A previous Home Office report commissioned by Labour claimed that innocent people with profiles retained on the DNA database had been shown to have a greater risk of offending than the general population. This claim was demonstrably false, and according to Genewatch:

    The original research on which this claim is based, published as part of the Home Office’s consultation, has been widely criticised. Ben Goldacre in ‘Bad Science’ called it “possibly the most unclear and badly presented piece of research I have ever seen in a professional environment”; it was described by one professor of statistics as “a travesty of both statistical science and logical thinking”; and criminologists also published a critical analysis in the New Law Journal. The Jill Dando Institute, which conducted part of the research, later distanced itself from the findings which it stated were “unfinished”.

  2. DW says:

    Likewise, I am suspecting made-up numbers and deliberate mis-quoting of anything real. Would not be the first time this has been done.

  3. Tom Welsh says:

    In any case, the argument is fallacious. One can think of any number of measures that would certainly make it easier for the police to catch criminals – but many of those measures must be ruled out because their other effects would be unacceptable. Every human being in the UK might be required to have a GPS device surgically implanted so the police always know exactly where we are, for instance. That would surely make their work much easier – but it’s incompatible with a free society.

    So it’s by no means enough to say “Measure X would make it easier for the police to solve crimes”.

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