What is the the Association of Chief Police Officers of England Wales and Northern Ireland playing at ?
Either they have incompetent internal management systems for developing a consensus view on "policing policy areas", and then for communicating these to the wider public and the mainstream media, or they are guilty of NuLabour style media manipulation and spin, in support of a particular political or commercial agenda, despite claiming that the Police service is apolitical.
How did Gary Pugh get to become the ACPO spokesman on DNA ?
'If we have a primary means of identifying people before they offend, then in the long-term the benefits of targeting younger people are extremely large,' said Pugh. 'You could argue the younger the better. Criminologists say some people will grow out of crime; others won't. We have to find who are possibly going to be the biggest threat to society.'
There is no scientific evidence that anybody can predict the future behaviour of 5 year olds with any degree of accuracy. You would have thought that Gary Pugh with a degree in Chemistry, who is meant to be familiar with the science behind DNA profile fingerprinting, would be familiar with the statistical concepts of false positives and false negatives.
'The number of unsolved crimes says we are not sampling enough of the right people,' Pugh told The Observer. However, he said the notion of universal sampling - everyone being forced to give their genetic samples to the database - is currently prohibited by cost and logistics.
Utter rubbish ! The Police are incapable of dealing the the current level of false positives which the DNA fingerprinting techniques throw up, let alone the vast increase in the persecution of innocent people, and the waste of police resources, which would result from such a scheme.
Cost and Logistics are not the only barriers to such an expansion of the database - it is also illegal. There is no statutory basis for even the existing National DNA Database - there is no specific Act of Parliament setting it up, or regulating it, even with the fig leaf of, say, an ineffective Annual Report by a supposedly Independent Commissioner.
What the media reports and even many civil liberties campaigners and blog commentators forget, is the weasel word nature of the concept of "universal DNA database". Because genetic information is, obviously, shared with members of your family, clan, tribe, ethnic group, or race, the Government does not need to take genetic samples from every individual in the country, only from identifiable members of each family in the country.
The Forensic Science Service already conducts speculative Familial DNA trawling of the National DNA Database.
Therefore Labour politicians and Police spokesmen can try to hoodwink the media and the public, by pretending that they are not being quite such authoritarian control freaks as they could be, by claiming that they are not (currently) planning a "universal" DNA database.
The Forensic Science Service, which Gary Pugh appears to have instrumental in setting up, according to his biography on the Metropolitan Police Service website, has a poor record on protecting the fundamental human right of data privacy of individuals, especially regarding the illegal retention of DNA fingerprint profiles and human tissue samples of innocent people This was done illegally for several years, until the practice was retrospectively made legal by the Labour Government in 2001.
The Forensic Science Service management procedures failed to prevent their sub-contractors LGC (the privatised former Laboratory of the Government Chemist) from illegally retaining records and samples for their own commercial purposes.
In neither of these examples, was anyone prosecuted or fired from their jobs, or even disciplined, for such blatant mass data privacy breaches of individuals most personal of data, their DNA profiles and human tissue samples.
This Regulator does not appear to have any power or remit to investigate complaints from the public or from internal whistleblowers about about mistakes or abuses involving DNA profiles or human tissue samples.
Pugh's other comments about kiddy printing in schools show him, and by extension, ACPO, to be completely out of touch with the fears and concerns of tens of thousands of parents and teachers about the forced fingerprinting of children in schools e.g.. the Leave Them Kids Alone campaign
'Fingerprints, somehow, are far less contentious,' he said. 'We have children giving their fingerprints when they are borrowing books from a library.'
More sinisterly, perhaps, Pugh's comments justify the fears of civil liberties campaigners that kiddy printing in school libraries etc. is being used to try to pretend that being fingerprinted in later life is somehow a normal and acceptable practice.
It is only because the fingers, and therefore the fingerprints of young children are still growing and changing, that , presumably, the control freaks are not proposing the data rape of such school biometric systems into Yet Another National Database. Obviously children's DNA profile "fingerprints" and tissue samples would remain valid for the rest of their lives.
Some other bloggers commenting on Gary Pugh's statements:
- Action on Rights for Children - Minority Report or plain old eugenics?
- David Mery - calm, almost too calm - DNA retention of unconvicted people
- The Yorkshire Ranter - No. Just No. Just No.
- Tim Worstall - Splutter
- UK Liberty - Put toddlers on DNA database
- Longrider - Pre-Crime
The Labour party police surveillance state apologist viewpoint seems have been uttered by the The Independent newspaper and their creepy and ill-informed opinion columnist Johann Hari: This strange backlash against CCTV
ACPO spin or incompetence ?
Serious as this scandal is, this is not the first time that a named "official ACPO spokesman" on a particular area of ACPO policy has come out with some controversial remarks, which then appeared in one or more weekend newspapers, causing a furore, which then, usually anonymous ACPO sources claim that this view somehow does not represent ACPO official policy.
In US political slang, this is known as "running it up the flagpole, to see if anyone salutes" - a time honoured NuLabour tactic.
The same technique appears to have used by the ACPO Spokesman on Child Protection and by the ACPO Spokesman on Road Traffic Cameras and by the head of ACPO itself, regarding the lobbying for 90 days (or more) internment without charge .
ACPO is entirely funded by a grant from the Home Office i.e. the taxpayers, and from the proceeds of their annual Conference and the associated Trade show at the National Exhibition Centre, paid for by manufacturers and suppliers of equipment and services the Police force monopolies, who are funded by the taxpayer.
ACPO also seem to be supplementing their funds by trying to act as a middleman for collecting money off people living overseas, or who wish to emigrate to, say, Australia, where they need to show a Police letter of good conduct etc to the immigration bureaucrats. Why this cannot be done by the Criminal Records Bureau is a mystery.
ACPO is not, currently, a Public Body for the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act, although it clearly should be.
The Home Office should be providing the politically accountable policy framework for Policing in the UK, not an unaccountable quango, like ACPO.
ACPO do have a role in providing a means for senior police officers to meet and discuss matters of common interest, but their role as think tank / lobbyists, funded by the taxpayer, must now stop, as all they ever seem to recommend is more repressive use of technology and more form filling and bureaucracy.
By meddling in politics, dabbling in monopoly commerce, and by leaking and spinning to the media like NuLabour apparatchiki, ACPO are further losing the trust and respect of the general public, and even of their rank and file more junior police officers.