Perhaps there will be a bit of a public debate about the National DNA Database which we commented on yesterday, now that the The Guardian reports:
DNA of 37% of black men held by police
Home Office denies racial bias
James Randerson, science correspondent
Thursday January 5, 2006
The DNA profiles of nearly four in 10 black men in the UK are on the police's national database - compared with fewer than one in 10 white men, according to figures compiled by the Guardian.
Civil liberties groups and representatives of the black community said this offered evidence that the database reinforced racial biases in the criminal justice system. The Home Office denied this, saying most of the DNA came from people who had been charged and convicted of crimes. Only about 113,000 people who had been arrested but not charged were on the database, a spokeswoman said.
The figures, compiled using Home Office statistics and census data, show that 37% of black men have their DNA profile on the database compared with 13% of Asian men and 9% of white men.
The "ethnic appearance" of each person placed on the database is recorded - 82% of male profiles are white and 7% black, according to the Home Office. The number of men in different racial categories can then be compared with the number in the country as recorded in the 2001 national census.
A Home Office spokeswoman accepted that black men were disproportionately represented, but said figures on race were recorded differently in each case. DNA database figures were "based on the operational judgment of the arresting officer", whereas census figures on race were self-recorded.
So presumably the Home Office will be researching "ethnic marker" alleles to "scientifically" pigeon hole people racially instead..
See Paul Nutteing's articles for for an idea of how this is already being used, and the inaccuracies which can result.