Joint Press Release
GeneWatch UK, NO2ID, Open Rights Group, Black Mental
Health UK, ARCH
Launched today, a new 'Reclaim your DNA' website helps innocent people contact the police to seek destruction of their DNA and database records (1). The coalition of rights groups supporting it accuses the Government of dragging its feet in removing innocent people from the National DNA Database (2). The European Court of Human Rights ruled last December that the retention of innocent people's DNA and fingerprints is unlawful.
Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK, said: "If Scotland can remove innocent people from the DNA database, why can't this happen everywhere? It's time for people in the rest of Britain to demand their rights".
Phil Booth, Co-ordinator of NO2ID, said: "The principle is simple and fair. When charges are dropped, DNA samples should be destroyed. No charge, no DNA - stop treating the innocent as criminal suspects".
Jim Killock, Executive Director of Open Rights Group, said: "We have human rights: we need to exercise them if we want to successfully defend them. The digital age means data is constantly easier to collect, store, and analyse, so when government goes too far, it is vital citizens act to defend their right to privacy".
Matilda MacAttram, Director of Black Mental Health UK, said: "The fact that three quarters of Britain's young black men and over half of black Londoners are on it clearly shows that the DNA database has criminalised a whole community, whilst most real criminals are still not on it. Black Mental Health UK welcomes this new website. It will enable thousands of innocent people who are currently being criminalised by a system that clearly doesn't work to get their genetic data back."
Terri Dowty, Director of ARCH, said: "Children have been particular victims of this database. The government should comply with the European Court ruling by ordering the immediate removal of the thousands of children who have not committed any offence."
For further information, contact:
Dr Helen Wallace, GeneWatch UK. Office: 01298-24300; Mobile: 07903-311584.
Phil Booth, NO2ID. Mobile: 07974-230839.
Jim Killock, Open Rights Group. Tel: 020 7096 1079.
Matilda MacAttram, Black Mental Health UK. Mobile: 07852-182750.
Terri Dowty, ARCH. Office: 020 8558 9317.
Notes for Editors:
(1) The website www.reclaimyourdna.org was developed by GeneWatch UK, NO2ID and the Open Rights Group (ORG). It is also supported by Action on Rights for Children (ARCH), Black Mental Health UK, Liberty and Privacy International.
(2) The Liberal Democrat and Conservative Parties have both called for the Government to implement legislation similar to Scotland's, where most people have their DNA and fingerprint records destroyed automatically if they are not convicted.