Letter: Misuse of DNA

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YOU REPORT that only those accused of murder or sex crimes are currently forced to give DNA samples ("Compulsory DNA tests in campaign to trap racists", 11 July). This is not my experience, nor that of other political activists.

I was asked to give a DNA sample after being arrested at a peaceful protest; when I declined to co-operate with this abhorrent procedure, a sample was taken by force. In another case protesters, including a woman of 83, were made to give samples after marking the Ministry of Defence with ash in an act of resistance against nuclear weapons (a case that was later thrown out of court).

DNA testing is presented by the police and the Home Office as an important step forward in the fight against violent crime. However, there is a great deal of debate among scientists as to the reliability of identifying offenders using this technique alone, and much concern about the implications that a full-scale testing programme may have for civil liberties. The fact that the police are already using DNA testing on peaceful protesters should ring alarm bells far and wide. Are we considered to be as dangerous as murderers and sex criminals, or is there another agenda at work here?


London N2