The Department for Education, Skills and What-Have-You today announces the launch of a public consultation into the ethical issues surrounding use of the police DNA database, which contains 4.5 million profiles of both convicted criminals and innocent people.
I merely flag this up because the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it consultation will only last six weeks, by which time objecting liberals will just about have agreed (by poll conducted on Skype) on names, manifestos and constitutions for the protest leagues into which they will have voluntarily co-opted themselves in order to make a systematic impact on the consultation. Damn, they know us well. Up the Judaean People’s Front.
The Association of Chief Police Officers is clearly in no doubt that the purpose of the consultation is to establish a mandate for how the police use the database:
The citizen’s inquiry will add to public understanding and will hopefully help develop broad agreement for the forensic use of DNA in the future
As ever this kind of statement is a double-edged sword: yes, a consultation is taking place, but will it ever be analysed for fairness, much less repeated, or will its results be used for ever after as a quasi-democratic justification for abuse of a database which contains (this is apparently absolutely true) 40% of the UK’s black male population’s DNA?
Expect to see a stepping up in security announcements and fearmongering over the period of consultation.
A happily conterminous sidelight on this story: yesterday it was confirmed that the one-offender-one-record database project supposed to track offenders through the system is being scrapped amid spiralling costs – this originally from August. Jack Straw’s comments to MPs afterwards (from an uncorrected oral evidence transcript, as I am required to make clear on pain of pain) are highly revealing of the classic statist blindness to the problems that inevitably occur with such over-arching projects:
Nonetheless, it is very frustrating that so many people, including the private sector, are taken in by snake oil salesmen from IT contractor who are not necessarily very competent and make a lot of money out of these things. I am pretty intolerant of this . . .
I think we all face problems . . . whereby unless we are total IT experts there is a danger of being taken in by snake oil salesmen.
Damn all this snake oil sloshing about everywhere, leaking all over NuLabour’s ten year plan to store everyone on a memory stick. People are so messy, aren’t they.
In other news, a totally unprecedented event has occurred. My epolitix morning bulletin carries a Liberal Democrat news story at the top of its list. And it is indeed the news that Clegg enters the PMQ lists today. I am almost as nervous as if I was actually going to stand up and do it myself, rather than be huddled up on the sofa with a cheese and pickle sandwich which is what I shall be doing.