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Labour determined to make DNA storage an "election issue"

The government is ditching a compromise arrangement on the controversial DNA database in order to make it one of their "dividing lines" with the Tories at the election.
Guy Aitchison
17 March 2010

I blogged recently (here and here) about Labour's wretched attempts to politicise the storage of innocent *ahem* "un-convicted" people's DNA, flaunting their violation of the European Convention on Human Rights as one of the top reasons to vote for them. Gordon Brown had accused civil libertarians who protest against keeping innocents' DNA on criminal databases of playing into the hands of rapists. And just when you thought the party couldn't sink any lower, this was swiftly followed  by a campaign video, blogged by Tom Ash, telling us burglars will vote Tory thanks to their opposition to Labour's DNA hoarding. (And to think ministers, like Michael Wills and Jack Straw, accuse the civil liberties lobby of being shrill and scare-mongering!). 

Now, via Alan Travis, we learn the government is planning to ditch a compromise with the Tories on DNA retention in the criminal and justice bill in order to make it an "election issue" and try and split the party.

The home secretary, Alan Johnson, may sacrifice his controversial proposal for the police to store innocent people's DNA profiles for up to six years in order to get his crime and security bill on to the statute book before the general election.

Ministers intend to reject a Tory compromise that DNA profiles of innocent people be kept for only three years, and instead make it an election issue.

Home Office sources indicate that the government is "in no mind to weaken" its DNA provisions and argue that the Conservative compromise will involve the police having to go repeatedly to the courts if they want to keep a DNA profile beyond three years.

Labour has already produced a campaign video which effectively accuses the Tories of being "the burglar's friend" for voting against the changes to the DNA retention regime.

Johnson calculates that the shadow home secretary, Chris Grayling, has little support from police and victims on the issue, and that it would prove an unpopular position among his own party if it were better known.

How to respond  to this shameful strategy? Well, as the good people of PoliceStateUK tweeted back to me, we should very much hope that this is an election issue. Indeed, there are many of us who are determined to make sure it is. It just won't be an issue in the way that Labour hopes!

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