openDemocracyUK

The Tories get the burglar vote...

Labour's disgraceful new attack on the Conservatives' opposition to their DNA database
Thomas Ash
10 March 2010

...according to this Labour attack ad:

So much for the right having a monopoly on anti-crime populism. As for the actual merits of the attack - where to start? Well...

1) 'Even the Daily Mail' concedes that "just one in 350, or 0.3 per cent, of the 1.3 million crimes solved by police" can be credited to the DNA database.

2) It goes without saying that the burglar into whose mouth Labour puts the arguments of its opponents is a straw man - there can rarely have been so definitive an example of one! Would the advert have been so persuasive had it featured a stronger opponent, such as Henry Porter or for that matter the European Court of Human Rights?

3) Criminals aren't necessarily the only ones worried about the new system, either. Yesterday's Metro reported that fears of being added to the database are reducing organ and blood donations.

4) Last but not least, the attack dishonestly suggests that Labour's DNA database covers only criminals, whereas it in fact includes 850,000 people who should still be presumed innocent as Guy Aitchison eloquently explained ;here at OurKingdom:

Their new campaign site offers six reasons why we should stick to nurse, one of which is the "Tories on DNA". It quotes Chris Sims,  ACPO lead on forensic science and West Midlands Chief Constable, who is "absolutely certain" there are cases where removing "un-convicted people" from the DNA database would have meant there would be "quiet serious crimes that weren't saved by police and offenders who could still be out there committing further serious offences."

That the Labour party should so loudly trumpet its contempt for personal privacy and the presumption of innocence, parading its violation of the European Court on Human Rights ruling on DNA retention as one of the top six reasons to vote for it, tells you everything you need to know about its attitude to civil liberties and the rule of law. If the Tories were in power, we are told, nasty horrible "un-convicted" people would be running around everywhere committing crimes. 

Un-convicted. Un-con-vic-ted. Didn't we use to have another word for that at one time before we became suspects to be tagged, tracked and monitored? And did it not underpin some legal principle of one kind or another generally thought essential to a free society? Clearly I'm getting muddled up. Un-convicted people are just people who haven't been convicted. Yet. They will be. Just so long as the Tories aren't there to give them back their DNA.

(Credit due to the invaluable Big Brother Watch for pointing to several of these facts.)

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