Monday, 25 February 2008

A National Genetic Database

Last week saw the conviction of Mark Dixie, 37, for the rape and murder of model Sally Anne Bowman, 18, in September 2005. I say rape and murder; it could have been murder then rape since Dixie offered to the jury the defence that he chanced upon Sally Bowman’s corpse and copulated with it, thus explaining the presence of his DNA in her body. The jury rejected this defence and unanimously found him guilty of murder. One of them shouted, “Rot in Hell, Pervert!” after he was sentenced. He will serve a minimum of 34 years in jail.

Mark Dixie: Murderer and Pervert

Sally Anne Bowman: Killed and Defiled

This isn’t another “hang ‘em high” post, although Dixie is fortunate the BNP is not in government at this time since otherwise he would be soon be dangling from a noose.

The topic I wish to address is DNA, and specifically, the collation of a national DNA database.

Mark Dixie escaped detection of his crime for eighteen months. The police had DNA evidence but no matches in the database. The breakthrough came when Dixie was arrested as a result of a pub fight in Sussex. Although that incident was minor his DNA was routinely swabbed, as is the DNA of everyone arrested in this country – excepting senior Labour politicians - and five hours later detectives were rushing to arrest him for murder.

So the Bowman murder case was cracked only by luck, and the stupidity of the murderer who got himself arrested on a trivial matter and was forced to hand over some saliva, and then double stupidity for not leaving the country as soon as he was released.

This has led the police officer who led the investigation into Bowman’s murder, Det Supt Stuart Cundy, to call for a national genetic database to which every citizen would be forced to supply a sample. Many crimes, apparently, could be solved at a keystroke. Other senior officers have endorsed the idea. It would presumably be quite simple for every newborn baby to be swabbed and the sample sent off to the National Forensic Laboratory. Adults could be called into police stations on some sort of rota and get swabbed there. The process is simple. An officer scrapes a cotton wool bud across the inside of the suspect’s cheek, puts the sample in a small plastic bag which he keeps in the station fridge until it can be sent off to the lab. There it is codified, effectively converted in a long number, and the original sample is stored in a large refrigerated room. There are four and half million samples in this room. It must be quite large. (We are talking England and Wales here. Provisions in Scotland are different.)

The current national DNA database is comprised of samples from everyone arrested, whether subsequently convicted or not, in the last few years. A small number of intrepid individuals have managed, after being exonerated in the courts, to get their samples destroyed. But almost always the sample is kept. This wasn’t always how things were done. When the database was first established the rules were that a sample would be taken from a suspect and if that suspect were later acquitted the sample and the matching computer record would be destroyed. That’s not how it worked out though. There were a number of detections (leading to convictions) based on samples that had supposedly been destroyed. It is clear that even back then the authorities were not keen to let go of data once they had it. And in fact there is no guaranteed way of deleting a computer record. Computers are backed up to safeguard against damage; those backup records are taken offsite as a precaution against major disasters such as building fires. Sometimes the backup data is again copied and the copy of the copy is saved elsewhere. Other copies are made to lend to foreign police forces and who knows who they pass the data on to.

Although it’s not technically feasible yet, one can well imagine in a few years’ time a disaffected official or computer technician simply emailing the entire UK national genetic database to all his friends. Doubtless he’d be sacked but there would be no recalling that data once it has escaped.

When data is transferred through networks it hops from computer to computer until it arrives at its destination. You’d be amazed at where a little packet of data has been just to get from your PC to a friend you’re emailing. Try this command from a command prompt:

C:\> tracert

See how many stops each data packet makes. (For me it’s ten hops and the BBC’s server can’t be more than 20 miles away.)

And guess what, each of those computers is also being backed up on a regular schedule.

This is where brain-dead liberals start bleating about: if you’ve nothing to hide you’ve nothing to fear. (Can you tell which side of the fence nationalist opinion falls yet?)

Well let’s look at what you have to fear. What can DNA tell us? It can tell us your sex, your race, your hair colour, your eye colour; in conjunction with other records it can tell us whether you are the legitimate offspring of your parents, and also how likely you will be to suffer heart disease or various forms of cancer. There are even genetic markers which indicate Jewishness. In the right hands this database would be scary; in the wrong hands – lethal.

Your propensity to commit a crime may also be encoded in there. With a national genetic database the authorities could start watching the likely suspects from the nursery onwards.

And of course, how long before someone suggests that since we can tell in advance who will commit a crime, how about doing something about it? Perhaps we can stop those evil genes from expressing themselves. Roll on compulsory mass medication.

Criminals are already adapting their behaviour to thwart DNA evidence.

Crime scene: Girl raped and "cleaned" with drain cleaner

In the above incident a 16-year-old girl was dragged off the street on Wednesday January 9th, into an unoccupied house in Anthill Rd, Tottenham, North London. There she was raped by what police describe as a “teenaged gang”. When they were done, her ordeal became even more gruesome. In a bid to destroy the DNA evidence the gang poured drain cleaner over her body and down her throat. She may have been scarred for life; the upper portion of her alimentary canal may have been destroyed.

So it seems likely that DNA evidence will be less useful in the future than it has been in the past as criminals become more aware of it and take steps to avoid leaving traces at the scene of the crime.

There is a natural revulsion among nationalists when it comes to treating the citizenry as a herd of cattle to be tagged and catalogued. We oppose ID cards, and oppose a national genetic database.

Of course there can be no objection to collecting genetic evidence from crime scenes since this DNA has no association with an individual. And we can accept that arrested individuals should have their DNA compared with that recovered from unsolved cases. However, unless the arrested person is subsequently convicted their sample and all computer records should be destroyed. The same applies to fingerprint records. Only if a person is convicted of a crime should biometric data be retained; and then only for a period proportional to the gravity of the offence. (These days every offence is “arrestable” and keeping a litterbug’s DNA on record for the rest of his life would be disproportionate.)

Most crimes are committed by people who have previously committed crimes. The “first time offender” is a tiny fraction of those coming before the courts. So the benefit of “tagging the herd” by requiring every citizen to submit to DNA swabbing is negligible. Compulsory screening might yield 100 new convictions at most. And more likely far fewer than that since it would take years to implement and allow plenty of time for guilty parties to leave the country.

A system of screening on arrest and deletion of records on acquittal would provide for the needs of criminal justice and yet protect the privacy of the ordinary citizen.

This would require a more robust deletion methodology. There must be a means of proving this data has been destroyed.

Until such time as this is implemented, I, for one, would refuse to supply a DNA sample if arrested.