Peter Tatchell: More gay men are being forced to give police their DNA

January 18, 2013
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Peter Tatchell remains concerned by fresh reports of gay men being forced to give DNA samples to police officers.

The human rights campaigner says alleged incidents have now taken place in West Yorkshire, London, Northumbria, West Midlands, Manchester and Essex.

On Wednesday, a gay former solider received a formal apology from Greater Manchester Police after he was made to give a DNA sample for a national database under new powers for investigating historical crimes.

Thousands of ex-offenders have been targeted by Operation Nutmeg, which aims to add the DNA of 12,000 people to the police national database.

Stephen Close from Salford, said the sample was taken because of a 30-year-old historic conviction for having consensual sex with another man.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) have said police should demand DNA samples for only the most serious of previous offenders, and that forces should not seek DNA samples from people convicted solely of previously banned consensual sex acts.

Mr Tatchell said: “Some of the men have no other convictions, contrary to what some forces are claiming.

I have written to the ACPO lead officer Amanda Cooper of Thames Valley Police stating:

‘It might be helpful if the ACPO guidance was revised and reissued.

‘I don’t think there is any justification for the inclusion of gross indecency in the list of DNA qualifying offences. These men are not a threat to the public.”

In response, Amanda Cooper said:

Police forces across the country are working to ensure that individuals, convicted of the most serious offences, have their DNA samples loaded and cross checked on the national DNA database. A 12-month programme of work, Operation Nutmeg, commenced in September to ensure that those convicted of serious sex offences and homicide and who should be on the national DNA database are.

The sampling specifically targets those who have served their time for those serious offences and are back in the community but have not had a DNA sample loaded onto the database, since it was created in 1995. As part of the guidance issued to forces it was noted that certain sexual offences, such as gross indecency and buggery, should not have a DNA sample taken on the grounds of a sole conviction. Each force is advised to undertake their own risk assessment on each named subject as part of their sampling decision making process.

Separately, ACPO Criminal Records Office is already working to facilitate amending police records for people who the Home Secretary decides should no longer have a record kept for historic offences which have been disregarded under the Protection of Freedoms Act.

Labour’s shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper has also raised the issue with the government.

Related topics: ACPO, Amanda Cooper, association of chief police officers, consensual sex, Criminal Records Office, DNA, essex, greater manchester police, historic conviction, London, Manchester, Northumbria, Operation Nutmeg, Peter Tatchell, thames valley police, West Midlands, west Yorkshire, Yvette Cooper

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