It’s unfashionable to say yes, but I was defending that position again in the Times last week.
Some say that DNA taken from some suspects on arrest can legitimately be compared with unidentified DNA from unsolved crimes. So it’s all right for police to use the DNA of innocent people to investigate whether they’ve committed unrelated offences in the past; but not to use the same profiles later to see if they’re linked to a future crime. How can you agree to the first, if you claim the second breaches the presumption of innocence? The distinction is one of timing, not principle.
Actually the Times edited this part of my piece for some reason: what I originally wrote was that Liberty themselves accept DNA taken from suspects on arrest can legitimately be compared with unidentified DNA from unsolved crimes. Anita Coles’s reply to my piece confirms that. So Liberty’s approach to DNA is not as consistent or principled as first appears.
I also said:
The DNA database is in its infancy: to strangle it at birth would be a disproportionate response to unreal fears. We don’t yet know how vital it may be to keep the DNA of innocent people, and how many serious offenders it will enable us to catch and stop. Only experience and and research will show us.
If we took Liberty’s approach, how would we ever know?