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Counter-Terrorism Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:00 pm on 9th October 2008.

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Photo of Baroness Harris of Richmond Baroness Harris of Richmond Spokesperson in the Lords (Police), Home Affairs, Whip, Spokesperson in the Lords, Scottish and Northern Ireland Affairs 3:00 pm, 9th October 2008

Clause 10 deals with the taking of fingerprints and non-intimate samples from those subject to control orders. As my noble friend Lady Miller of Chilthorne Domer said on Amendment No. 14, these are people who have not been through a process of law.

The need to legislate specifically to allow fingerprints and DNA to be taken from those on control orders underlines fundamental problems of process. One consequence of creating a quasi-judicial system outside criminal law is that the normal procedural and ancillary policing powers associated with the criminal process do not apply. Anyone arrested for recordable offences, which include offences as trivial as begging, can currently have their DNA taken and permanently retained, even if they are not convicted or even charged. The result is a policy anomaly where allegations of involvement in terrorism—criminality of the highest order, as has been pointed out—through the control order system mean that the police are unable to use powers that are available as a matter of course when investigating suspicion of much lower-level criminality.

We do not have any concerns about the police having the power to take the DNA of those properly arrested on suspicion of committing terrorist offences; that power already exists. However, we are concerned about the proposal to allow DNA samples to be taken from those subject to civil law rather than criminal law proceedings. We hope that the Minister will seriously consider the suggestions that we have made in our previous two sets of amendments, which would go some way towards allaying our concerns. I recognise that the Minister has spoken at great length on this area. This is the last chance, at this stage, to deal with it.