Clause 81 - Restriction on use and destruction of fingerprints and samples

Part of Criminal Justice and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 8th March 2001.

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Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Conservative, Reigate 4:15 pm, 8th March 2001

The hon. Gentleman is right, and he raises a legitimate cause for concern about people's willingness to help the police to eliminate suspects from their inquiries in order to narrow the focus of their investigations. Individuals may wonder whether to help the police. Usually, as citizens, they would want to do so. However, citizens might find themselves faced with a decision that may affect the rest of their lives. Volunteering DNA is effectively giving a blank cheque to the police. If other citizens' DNA has not been given and is not owned by the police, individuals who have volunteered it are at a disadvantage.

The Minister may argue that people will be protecting themselves from a future conviction when a criminal offence has been committed, but who knows what the future holds for any individual, so why should people expose themselves to that possibility? It is on that issue that the Government's approach to the balance between the individual and the state has gone wrong. Their approach will not benefit the wider public interest if it puts people off coming forward to help the police conduct inquiries in which many people have to eliminated from their suspicions.