Wednesday, 16 September 2009

ACPO Advises Breaking the Law

I have mentioned ACPO, the Association of Chief Police Officers, before. It is an organisation I believe should be disbanded, and its officers charged with corruption if there is a law general enough to cover their actions, exposed in the press otherwise.

ACPO is not a government body, a QUANGO or even a staff association or union. It is a company limited by guarantee, answerable only to its guarantors. I can only assume it is specifically permitted to leave out the term “Limited” in its name. This is usually required, and leaving it out masks the nature of ACPO.

Now ACPO is advising senior police officers to break the law and keep DNA samples despite a court ruling. Now I disapprove of the European Court of Human Rights. I also disapprove of large tracts of human rights legislation that conveys rights, having seen no case that these rights are inherent. However police of all people cannot just go around obeying only those laws they choose to obey.

Of course there are solid arguments against keeping DNA of innocent people on a database. Political argument (it is unpopular), theoretical science (a large database is arguably less useful) and experience (it has rarely if ever been used to solve serious crime) argue against keeping such a large database.

Anticipating that new legislation on DNA retention will come into force next year, a letter from ACPO states

“Until that time, the current retention policy on fingerprints and DNA remains unchanged.

Individuals who consider they fall within the ruling in the S and Marper case should await the full response to the ruling by the Government prior to seeking advice and/or action from the police service in order to address their personal issue on the matter.”

Why is an unaccountable body making policy? Why is it doing so in secret? On what authority does ACPO determine what any officer ‘should’ do? Why moreover is an independent body coercing the police to break a court judgement?

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Lord Elvis of Paisley said...

Definitely worth cross posting. I was going to blog on this very same subject later today, but you seem to have covered the all the bases. Good post!

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