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A horrendous development

The impulse to control everything pervades those who make up the governmental class. That is, after all, why someone decides to spend their working life in politics and applying the collective means of coercion to others. The extent to which this desire to impose force backed control can be realised is exactly what defines whether or not you are ‘free’ or a ‘slave’ of the state.

So when yesterday I read that the state plans to take DNA samples that will be retained forever, from people accused of speeding or littering or failing to wear a seatbelt, I realised that if this happens, we will have finally reached the point where the only response left to being stopped for even the most minor offence, is to run and if need be to use violence to escape, and to make no apology for that if you are caught. The offences are trivial but the prospect of being DNA sampled upon being accused of a trivial offence, and that being kept on record forever, is something worth getting violent about. Being fingerprinted is bad enough but this is intolerable.

The only thing that will stop this appalling state of affairs from coming to pass is if enough people react with outrage to this proposal.

The sooner my affairs contrive to let me get out of this godforsaken country the better.

35 comments to A horrendous development

  • RobtE

    …DNA samples that will be retailed forever…

    It would be bad enough if the samples were being retained forever, but for them to be sold on…

    Sorry, but the impulse was too strong. I’ll get my coat now. 🙂

  • Dale Amon

    Perry: I’m still on the road and doing everything in my power to start my transition to Laramie. Keep in mind that Wyoming is the location of the Western Free State project, so you might find it suitable as well…

    Perhaps Samizdata will become a UK blog in exile if we all end up there!

  • Johnathan Pearce

    What is worse is that if you are acquitted of a crime, the fuckers keep the DNA, like you know, just in case.

    Euan Gray, that old apologist on these threads for this stuff, must be giggling.

  • Brad

    Risk. Some people just can’t seem to abide risk. This is a prime example of the imbalance between freedom and security.

    Also, having driven US Interstate commutes for the better part of ten years now, I have seen what has to be an arbitrary application of misdemeanor laws such as speeding. I’ve seen people clearly speeding well over the limit go by, and others going much slower pulled over. I don’t know if the trooper is having a bad day, or it’s just skewed toward the need for revenue or whatever, but it is not equally applied. Also there is the concept of bias in who is pulled over (profiling), again arbitrary. So the collection of data of this sort, itself an imposition, is going to hit people for arbitrary reasons, which is not “equal protection under the law”, a basic tenet of justice. So it’s bad enough that there are too many arbitrary laws, they’re upping the ante severely.

  • Oh Canada, your gentle tolerance admits both evil and good, so guess where I’m headed.(States would be first choice, but what are the chances of that eh?)

  • No it’s worse still. Even if they never even get enough evidence to charge, or report, they will still keep it!

  • guy herbert

    …What is worse is that if you are acquitted of a crime..

    Actually it is much worse even than that. You don’t have to be charged with any crime.

    The current state of affairs – which is quite bad enough -came about in 2001 when the courts found police retention of samples from the unconvicted was unlawful. The government then retrospectively legalised it, giving chief constables the final say on whether a sample (or fingerprints, photographs, etc) from an innocent person would be destroyed on that person’s request. Chief constables never take that option.

  • Kyle Bennett


    Two guys were out in the woods and came upon an angry bear. One of the men started changing from his hiking boots into a pair of running shoes. The other man said “Why are you doing that? You still won’t be able to outrun the bear.”

    The first man replied, “I don’t have to run faster than the bear, I only have to run faster than you.”

  • Hock Rudson

    Drool, Brittania.

  • I am sorry to use that line again, but it is even worse than that: they can take DNA samples from crime victims and witnesses who were never even suspected of anything. There is good coverage of this topic in Peter Hitchen’s “Stealing your Freedom(Link)”. Worst of all, it is now pretty certain that New Labour –and possibly the Tories—will introduce a universal DNA database(Link) anyway –they are not saying it openly but once only a small minority do not have their DNA on the register, the final move should be politically simple.
    I don’t think using violence is a good idea; you are unlikely to prevail given the existing extent of the police & surveillance state. It would also give you a conviction so that if there ever is a decision to remove database entries for non-convicts (a big if, I know) your data will remain on the database. The best strategy might be to complain and keep complaining endlessly once your details are taken and to encourage others to do so. If a universal database is ever to be fought off, there needs to be some signal that people are not willing to put up with it.
    Of course, there is now a strong incentive for law abiding people to stay away from and avoid cooperating with the police to the greatest extent possible, even if you are a crime victim or could be a witness.

  • Whenever law enforcement and intelligence seeks to extend their reach “for the good of the citizens” it is good to make the counterproposal that if they get those extra powers the citizens should get a corresponding increase in accountability and transparency from the agencies. After all, if it is all in our best interests, then they should have nothing to hide (in fact they would gain, from useful criticism and increased trust).

    Rather than always reacting with outrage to proposals like this, we should work to make the reciprocity principle a normal reaction to them. “Sure you can have our DNA, but in exchange you need to…” That will help distinguish between proposals that are actually worthwhile and those that are merely extensions of institutional empires.

  • michael farris

    Of course it is in the interest of any and all (functional, modern) governments to want as much data on all citizens/residents as possible.

    In other words, this is obviously a first step towards setting up a universal DNA database and I assume the idea will be spreading to all modern, functional governments sooner rather than later.

    That is, I’m sure that the USA won’t be far behind. If I were planning something like this I would require DNA samples from incoming immigrants/returning citizens as a first step, followed by greencard holders. The ‘threat of terrorism’ works _wonderfully_ as an excuse (you may tie this in with your support for the awesome Iraq adventure if you wish to, you may ignore it if that makes you feel better).

    In other words, if this really bothers you, then get the lead out if you’re serious about leaving the UK (even if you take a financial hit to do).

  • Nick M

    It is fairly obvious that the UK state wants the DNA of everybody who has darkened the towels of this nation.

    I undoubtedly commit ten such minor offences every day, don’t you?

    It is also fairly obvious that they would like to know every financial dealing we make, every trip we make and if I may be allowed to be crude and paraphrase Nikita Krushev speaking of his own house arrest it will soon be impossible for anyone to take a shit without the politburo knowing about it.

    Well, I’m not a criminal and I clearly therefore don’t have anything to hide so why should I worry? Well, just under a year ago an opperative of the US TSA dusted my laptop for explosive traces and screamed at me. Of course this computer had nothing to hide but that was one hell of a welcome to the great state of Pennsylvania. I am a computer tech and I was really worried about my poor machine suffering a HD failure because I had five minutes to get to my connecting flight and I had to wait for shut-down before I ran with it.

    I spent several thousand dollars in the USA and I was shrieked at on arrival. I was made to stand behind a yellow line on the floor while my computer was inspected by someone I wouldn’td trust to examine a fucking slide-rule. My computer!

    I went to the USA to have a good time and spend money earned in this United Kingdom freely to that purpose. I had no plans on becoming an illegal immigrant to the USA and the last thing on my agenda was blowing myself, my wife and indeed my prize laptop up for Allah. I’m agnostic, my wife is atheist and I assume my comments on this blog on Islamic terrorism (why do we never hear of the militant wing of the Methodists?) are a matter for public record.

    Once within the USA (and outside of airports) I had a really good time and met some nice folk and did some cool stuff and basically had the kinda fun time you have when you’ve got a few grand to drop.

    So this is my question. Me and Lizzy clearly presented zero threat and me and my laptop were still given a medieval going over. Now I travel outside the EU (oh how they have made themselves necessary) rarely but I still get the shit knocked out of me on honeymoon to the USA. Why? What did that achieve? And the DHS is a prototype of the sort of nonsense that UKGov wants to impose on all of us and not even for travelling outside of Europe.

    Now that’s part of my question. The other part is subtle and vicious. I am clearly not an illegal immigrant threat to the USA. I think at some point in the last ten years if I was planning on staying illegally to earn minimum wage in a carwash I would have done it by now. I am not a terrorist threat. I love the USA and I had a dinner of pig-meat washed down with Merlot tonight. You see where I’m coming from here.

    So… In the current circs why should I be safe to travel (and I clearly am) without the “authorities” having “profiled” me. (or in other words a variety of governments knowing about as much about me as the Sov’s knew about Krushev)?

    It’s a poser and no mistake.

  • Counting Cats

    An Emperor of ancient China decided that the best way of stamping out trouble was to make all punishments draconian.

    Two soldier in were making their way back from leave and one asked the other – “What is the punishment for being late?”

    “Death” replied the second.

    “What is the punishment for rebellion?” asked the first?

    “Death” replied the second, again.

    “Well” said the first, “we’re late.”

    Laws which treat the people with contempt result in the state being treated with contempt.

  • How long will it be before someone suggests it might be a good idea to exhume the dead and take DNA from them, as well. It might not make much sense, but what, that the state does, makes any sense?

    They still have to find the Ripper, don’t they?

  • Gengee

    It does not really matter, one of the idiots in Government will see that this will cause a stir and it will quietly fade away.
    The collecting will then come at birth, it will be billed as a wonderful step forward in the NHSs’ ability to tailor treatments directly to the patient. No one will be able to say no because it will be proven to save 3 lives every month and they will be children, this will trump all arguments from a liberty perspective. The state will insist that the data will only be used for medical purposes. The law will then be ammended or ignored and the database will be opened up to the state security organs.
    All your DNA ‘r’ Belong to Us.

  • It’s entirely likely that the British government might start collecting DNA from the dead. There have been cases where criminals have been apprehended because of DNA records taken from relatives.

    The discussion is all rather moot for me since they got mine before I was able to get out finally.

  • Nick M

    Yes, Col Hogan!

    The hunt for Jack the Ripper should be of prime concern to the Met.

    At least it might keep some of the more enthusiastic members of SO19 from shooting innocent Brazilian electricians in the head – 8 times in the head.

  • Oh, the irony. In the US it seems that the authorities can’t manage to hold onto DNA evidence that’s been collected in serious crimes. But only, it seems, when the DNA might be evidence of innocence. (An interesting series of articles.)

    And allow me to put in another plug for Wyoming!

  • Brian Swisher

    Nick M:

    Sorry about your atrocious welcome to the US.

    WRT the TSA, their hiring practices appear to be the same as my friend’s description of the hiring practices of private security companies:

    If you breathe, they’ll hire you.

    If you breathe regularly, they’ll make you a supervisor…

  • Paul Marks

    Counting Cats.

    Yes the founder the Han dynasty (Liu Pang) was bringing up forces for the “legalist” philosophy influnced Chinese govenment of the time (the Emperor who ordered the wall built was dead, but his dynasty, the Ch’in, was still in control of an area the size of Europe that he turned into one dementedly ruled country) – and he was held up by a flooded river.

    As the penalty for being late was death he put it to the men that they might as well go into revolt – they agreed.

    There was recently a Chinese film “Hero” (I think it was called) that accepted that the Emperor Shih Huang-Ti was someone who should be supported BECAUSE he waged wars of conquest against other lands (turning a vast area into one country) which he then ruled as a despot. Supposedly the words “our land” explain it all.

    Shih Huang-Ti would have loved a D.N.A. database – it would have gone along fine with his book burnings (some things survived – but we, obviously, do not know what did not survive) and treating the population as tools to do whatever he wanted with.

    Perry you seem to dislike the “New Freedom”.

    Do not worry, when the behaviour chip is installed you will think differently (Shih Huang-Ti would have loved the behaviour chip idea as well).

    Of course they may be an “I.T. blunder” leaving people either dead or insane – but I am sure that the government will carry on with the operations anyway.

    “I hate this as much as you do, but it is in the regulations – now stop screaming and thrashing about, you are only making things worse for everyone”.

  • Nick M


    There maybe an IT blunder? This is the Government of the UK we’re talking about. I’ll be wrongly jailed for peadophilia, you will be deported for being a suspected Albanian mafia kingpin and Perry will die of starvation because “the computer” will send out 100 thousand reminders that he’s well overdue for his cervical smear and he won’t be be able to get out the door for the mountain of mail.

    I have temped for Defra and the IR and I can honestly state that I am not exaggerating.

  • Brian

    We have an unexpected community of interest here with the piggy-fiddling murderers who have precipitated this problem (I won’t say, caused it, because the scum of Labour would have thought of some excuse in the fullness if time anyway)…

    If we could get them to blow themselves to bits in the offices of the Inland Revenue. they would be vastly more likely to achieve their political objectives, and if we didn’t achieve our political objectives, at least the right people would be dying painfully for a change.

    How about it?

  • Ian Grey

    This bloke(Link) thinks we should all be on it in the interets of fairness

  • Dusty

    The perils of relying on the good nature of the king and having a strong opposition vs having a written constitution. Of course, neither is a guarantee of freedom but the latter allows a little more leasure time.

  • Ian – that bloke has a seriously scary website.

    Rather than run if caught, what can they do if you refuse to provide a sample? Can they tie you down and forcibly extract your DNA?

  • Sunfish

    I’ll be wrongly jailed for peadophilia

    Ah, yes, we must stamp out this inappropriate love lf legumes.

    you will be deported for being a suspected Albanian mafia kingpin

    The actual Albanian mafia kingpin, on the other hand, will be elected to Parliament as a Conservative from East Westchester.

    and Perry will die of starvation because “the computer” will send out 100 thousand reminders that he’s well overdue for his cervical smear and he won’t be be able to get out the door for the mountain of mail.

    ..and the pizza he ordered to tide him over until he can be rid of the junk mail will sit undelivered, as no pizza driver can afford the congestion charge equal to about three weeks’ pay.

    But look on the bright side: All of England will now be safe from crime (except for those crimes perpetrated by drunks at closing time, hypes looking for their next fix, domestic violence, sale of peerages, and most forms of terrorism, which will have to be addressed by other means)

  • Subotai Bahadur


    Sorry to say that the normal means of collection is as simple as wiping the inside of the cheek with a cotton swab. If one should not cooperate with that, plucking a hair will do. Might I recommend a concept that a fellow American wrote for the French in the 1780’s? Mind you, the French screwed it all up, but the idea was good. Thomas Paine wrote the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen for the French Revolutionary government. In it, the concepts we have in our Second Amendment were stated as “The Right of Resistance to Oppression”. In this country, muskets would be coming off mantlepieces if something like this was tried. I feel truly sorry for our English and Celtic cousins, as they have neither the option nor the mindset to exercise it if they had it. And I have a sudden burst of appreciation for a written Constitution to which all our governments must be subservient to, and the fact that we are not a Parliamentary democracy.

  • Nick M

    Legumes Sunfish! Huh?

    You put me in mind of an old Turkish saying…

    A woman for duty,
    A boy for pleasure,
    but a melon for ecstasy!

  • Sunfish

    Yeah, Legumes. What else would a PEA-dophiliac love?

  • Melon? Damn those dophiliacs and their riddles…

  • Nick M


    I think we have a UK-US spelling issue here.

    Or perhaps I just can’t spell.

    And anyway, it’s beans that float my boat.

    I have a hot date with a tin of pintos tonight.

    I’m going to clean my teeth and everything first.

  • The Dude

    Chances are high that in the next year or two I might get asked to be relocated to either Switzerland or Tulsa.

    In either case I will say “Yes”, and by the time I finsh the sentence the boxes will be packed.

  • Hey baby- as long as they don’t forcibly extract my mojo.
    Oh, behave!

  • Cwells

    And you wonder why gun owning Americans want to keep them?? Brits should NEVER have given them up….