Another Guardianista Thinks All our DNA Belongs to the State

Step forward, Carl Gardner, Stasi apologist.

My fear is that limiting the retention of DNA unnecessarily now may hobble a technology that could be a very powerful tool for identifying offenders, eliminating innocent suspects and protecting human rights in 30 or 50 years’ time. The growth of the DNA database over the last 10 years has been a brave experiment; I hope it won’t be closed down prematurely. The government is right not to “gold-plate” the European court’s judgment, which ruled out only a blanket policy of permanent retention. The current proposals will almost certainly withstand a further human rights challenge, and should be defended in court if necessary.

So, Gardner does not believe that HMG should obey the law. He is also, it seems, ignorant of the false positives aspect. As commenters to this risible article point out to him, our DNA is none of the state’s business. Sure, it can be a useful tool when carrying our an investigation; but it isn’t the magic wand that people like Gardner seem to think that it is. I really don’t care how brave the experiment is; I’ve not committed a criminal offence, so I have no intention of sharing my DNA with the state. If I was arrested and subsequently released without charge, or acquitted, I would fight tooth and nail to get myself removed from the database. Gardner’s brave experiment can go hang. I repeat; my DNA is none of the state’s business.

Oh, but it gets better. As is so often the case with the Guardianista, those pesky civil liberties are just such a damned nuisance and why do we bother with such abstracts anyway?

The best reason to back the government, though, is that civil liberties concerns about DNA, now almost conventional wisdom, are abstract and overstated. What’s the actual fear?

Sigh… There is nothing abstract about them, nothing. Nor are they overstated. As other stories point out, our basic liberties have been eroded by this government in an unprecedented manner. Civil liberties is the lone warrior, standing above the bloodied and battered bodies of his fallen comrades as the invading barbarian hordes descend to finally snuff him out; the inconvenient refusnik, who doesn’t know when he is beat and just won’t have the decency to surrender, that must be destroyed for the good of the new order.

Civil liberties are the bedrock of a civilised society. Without them, we are back in the Eastern Bloc during the cold war; a place where people watched what they said, for fear of being overheard and their words used against them. Couldn’t happen in 21st Century Britain… Could it?

Some say retention violates the presumption of innocence – but that principle does not mean nothing at all can be done to a presumably innocent person. If it did, arresting and questioning suspects – vastly more serious invasions of freedom than storing numbers on a computer – would also be ruled out.

You know you have a Guardianista on the end of your line when the old logical fallacies are trotted out. The indefinite – or merely long term – storage of DNA is not comparable to the questioning of a suspect. Indeed, the taking of DNA from a suspect is fine. No one, so far as I am aware is arguing otherwise. However, once the investigation determines that they are innocent – or they are acquitted, then they are innocent people and they are no longer suspects. Therefore there is no need to retain their DNA, just as there is no need to keep them in a police cell. The temporary inconvenience of questioning – and even arrest – does not compare to the lifelong assumption of guilt associated with registration on the database. Has Gardner not heard of Lorraine Elliott? Of course people will be presumed guilty. It has already happened. Just as we all knew that despite the assurances, airport scanners would be abused – and in short order, they were. The more power you give to the state, the more it will abuse that power. And information is power.

…retaining DNA profiles does not meddle with anyone’s soul.

No one said it does. What we have said; consistently, is that it is no business of the state’s. Not the same thing at all, is it?

Metaphysics aside, being on the DNA database takes away no freedom (and yes, if the bill gets through, I’ll go on it voluntarily).

Lorraine Elliott lost her job. Perhaps if you volunteer, you will lose yours, eh? And if you are so keen, why are you waiting? Go on, do it now. Put your money where your CiF is.

If people’s DNA is kept without their consent, it is affecting their freedom; their freedom to keep their information to themselves and away from the prying, malign eye of the state.

Against this, keeping even innocent people’s DNA for six years is amply justified in order to fight crime.

This is risible bollocks of the 24 carat, diamond encrusted variety. DNA retention does not fight crime. In certain circumstances, it will help in an investigation. Gardner has been watching too much CSI.

Alan Johnson should take his case to the people.

Oh, yes, please. Bring it on… Going by the majority of the comments in the Groan; a blatantly statist newspaper, the outcome will be wonderfully bloody.


  1. Carl is a very special sort of person, isn’t he?

    At least he deserves credit for engaging below the line, even if it was merely to offer his face for everyone else to bruise their fists on. It’s more than Polly or Madeline ever do, but then, they are presumably smart enough (just) to know their own limitations…
    .-= My last blog ..As Excuses For Senseless Murder Go… =-.

  2. The Stasi of the former East Germany is a terrible reminder from history of what happens when the state gets too interested in the lives of its citizens. It isn’t something to draw inspiration from! Only an authoritarian lefty statist writing in CiF would think otherwise.

    Carl Gardner should be ashamed of himself. Most of us just want an easy, hassle-free, fun life with a government that leaves its citizens alone to live their lives as they see fit (within reason!) without laying down the law.

    Yes – fun! Anyone remember what that is?

    Civil freedoms are our last hope against the evil that exists in us all.

  3. I think that you will find he is a former barrister. After 12 years of practice (see his cv) he has clearly become wealthy enough to fund a life as a pundit and blogger. His main blog is as Head of Legal with links to other places that he writes for on that page.

    If he is typical law school output these days, then heaven help us all.

  4. You kind of touch on this, but it’s how I feel when I hear this adolescent, simplistic cack. There is nothing to stop people from volunteering, should they so wish, to offer up their DNA. Go ahead. Jut don’t force anyone else. If you want to sign a waiver, after being proved innocent, to let the police keep your DNA, be my guest. Just as with the hypocritical Pollys of the world – you want people to pay higher taxes – go ahead, write a cheque to HMRC. They won’t refuse.

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