Durham police demonstrate DNA will stuff you

By Terrapinzflyer · Dec 10, 2009 · ·
  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Durham police demonstrate DNA will stuff you
    Possession of non-illegal substance will still arse up your prospects

    Durham police last week put the final nail in the coffin of the Home Office mantra "nothing to hide, nothing to fear", with a clear announcement that DNA and fingerprinting could harm an individual’s career prospects – even if they are otherwise totally innocent.

    The warning came in a press release relating to mephedrone, which began by establishing that the substance remains legal to possess – until the government determines otherwise – but illegal to sell for medicinal purposes.

    The release observes that "its chemical formula is one molecule different to ecstasy and as such dealers are claiming is not a controlled substance." This would in fact make mephedrone a different chemical substance from ecstacy – in much the same way that carbon monoxide is not the same as carbon dioxide - and therefore clearly not a controlled substance, irrespective of claims made by dealers.

    However, it is in police remarks relating to the consequence of possessing mephedrone that the greatest concerns are to be found. Barnard Castle-based Inspector Kevin Tuck is reported as saying: "In Durham police have taken a stance and anyone found with it will be arrested on suspicion of possession of a banned substance."

    He adds: "They will be taken to a police cell, their DNA and fingerprints taken and that arrest, depending upon enquiries, could have serious implications for example on future job applications" (our italics).

    We asked Durham police for clarification of what possible serious implications there could be for an individual found in possession of a legal substance who had their fingerprints or DNA taken. It was speculated that perhaps some employers would ask prospective job candidates about details not merely of convictions, but of all contact with police – and therefore having DNA taken could adversely affect job prospects for that reason.

    However, we have had no official response to our inquiry and remain as baffled as the Home Office, who are still sticking to their line that DNA testing in and of itself can have no consequence for an individual.

    A Home Office spokesman said: "Employment checks are not linked to the DNA database and employers cannot check if a potential employee is on the DNA database.

    "As we announced last month in our proposals for DNA retention, the police would be required to remove DNA profiles from the database after six years if the person was not subsequently convicted.

    "Under the exceptional case procedure, an individual can apply to their police force to have their DNA removed. This will be decided by the chief constable, and the criteria for that application are for the first time set out in statute in our proposals."

    Therefore, the official line continues to be that DNA testing is an innocuous process and, as ever, "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear".

    Whether the police should have any role at all to play in the regulation of a legal substance is an interesting question: defendants of the police role (pdf) in this would point to the fact that as well as upholding law and order, local police forces are tasked with "keeping the Queen’s peace", as well as "protecting, helping and reassuring the community".

    Pending explanation from Durham, however, it would seem to be the case that the belief exists amongst some middle-ranking officers that a DNA test does have consequences; or, if it does not, that there is sufficient uncertainty amongst the general public for the threat of a test to have some weight in enforcing a "stance" taken against a currently legal substance

    By John Ozimek
    10th December 2009 10:02 GMT


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  1. Insomniacsdream
    This just proves the incompitance of the british police and nothing else. Honestly they have no idea what the law is and have a tendancy to guess. For instance telling me that ketamine is class b, videoing in the public domain is illegal ect.
  2. bcubed
    So, the police are openly admitting that they will detain you for a substance they know is legal to possess, and *specifically mention* that one can expect pecuniary losses arising from their action?

    So, in effect, they are announcing a strategy of targeting law-abiding citizens because they engage in a behavior the cops don't approve of...without consequence?

    As much as I get pissed about US law, I'm grateful that the ACLU would be all over this in a heartbeat: I mean, sure the police target (racial profiling and the like), but they don't have the stones to BRAG about it in the paper!
  3. Alfa
    The police are writing their own law here. So this leads to think that this kind of policing renders politicians redundant. But if one ponders why the plice is acting this way, then it seems to me that they may have been instructed to do so from higher up. Possibly even by the EU.

    An important issue here is that mephedrone is not a medicine. It has no medicinal value. Therefore applying medicine law to mephedrone is an abuse of law. This abuse of law is the basis of the plant food approach.

    So now its twists one step further into abuse of law. But why? The real issue is that politicians are still not able to cope with the politically hypersensitive drug issue. If they could only be able to face real risk profiles and applying this to legislation, instead of applying scare tactics to legislation, then the current problem could be tackled. Now it will just go on and on. If drugs with low risk profiles would be regulated, then mephedrone would never have become popular.
  4. Phenoxide
    Not only is their logic retarded (as the analogy excellently demonstrates), but it's not even true that mephedrone is 'one molecule different' from MDMA. It's evaded analogue laws because it's designed to be chemically distinct but similar in biological activity. Just as well the police seem unaware that oxygen is one of the most toxic compounds to all organic lifeforms, otherwise they may have duly confiscated in the interests of public safety.

    The police here acknowledge that they are aware mephedrone is not controlled, but will arrest people anyway under the false pretence that they believe it to be a controlled substance, so that they can get them into the system. Then they retain their information for a ridiculous six years! In my opinion it is obsurd that such information can even be entered into the database before someone is found guilty and convicted. Police are supposed to be the servants, not the masters. Just another example of flagrant abuse of power that demonstrates why no government should be trusted with a centralized biometric database. :mad:
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