Privacy SOS

UK police are targeting kids for illegitimate arrest in order to collect their DNA

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about how the FBI plans to enlist local cops in a scheme to collect DNA from arrestees throughout the United States. People who are arrested are not guilty of crimes. One in 25 Americans was arrested in 2011. Therefore the FBI's DNA collection scheme, when fully enacted and if we don't stop it, will enable the federal government to collect and store the DNA of millions of people convicted of no crime each year. As many activists know, police in cities like New York routinely arrest huge groups of people, only for the charges to be dropped. But if their DNA is processed as a matter of course during the arrest, it doesn't matter if they're ever convicted of a crime or even face trial. The damage to their privacy will have been done—forever.

In the UK, police are well aware of this troublesome loophole. And they're purposefully exploiting it in an effort to collect as much DNA as possible from society's most marginalized people: young people, many of whom are likely black and brown.

The Daily Mail:

Youths with no criminal record are being targeted for arrest so their DNA can be logged on a database in the event they commit crimes.

A total of 386  under-18s had their DNA taken and stored by police last year in one north London borough – more than one a day.

An experience officer working for the Metropolitan Police admitted the DNA was being stored as part of a 'long-term crime prevention strategy'.

The officer said: 'We are often told that we have just one chance to get that DNA sample and if we miss it then that might mean a rape or a murder goes unsolved in the future.'

He added: 'Have we got targets for young people who have not been arrested yet? The answer is yes.

'But we are not just waiting outside schools to pick them up, we are acting on intelligence.

'If you know you have had your DNA taken and it is on a database then you will think twice about committing burglary for a living. Already this year some 169 under-18s have had their profiles uploaded.'

Unless we act to limit police departments' ability to send arrestee DNA records to the FBI, we might very well soon face the same crisis in the United States. Being arrested doesn't make you guilty. But soon, it will land you in the FBI's national DNA database—unless we act.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.