Police issue new advice on gay DNA sampling following New Statesman article

Men convicted of the now-repealed offence of “gross indecency” will no longer be asked for samples.

Excellent news – following Peter Tatchell’s article for the New Statesman website on how men convicted of homosexual offences decades ago were being threatened with arrest if they refuse to provide samples for the national DNA database, new guidance has been issued to chief constables that no new samples should be taken and those already taken reviewed and possibly destroyed. Previously, men convicted of consenting behaviour under the now-repealed offence of “gross indecency” had been asked to provide samples.

The Peter Tatchell Foundation’s press release states:

The new advice comes from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). It reminds Chief Constables that DNA samples are only supposed to be taken from “individuals convicted of the most serious offences” and should not be taken from men whose “only” conviction is gross indecency. It urges them to “review” any samples they have already taken and, if appropriate, ensure their “destruction.”

A copy of the new ACPO guidance follows below and here:

“The revised guidelines follow our research which shows that police have taken DNA samples from gay men in West Yorkshire, London, West Sussex, Northumbria, West Midlands, Manchester and Essex. The stated reason for the sampling was a conviction for gross indecency - an offence that no longer exists - in many instances dating back decades,” reports Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights advocacy organisation, the Peter Tatchell Foundation.


Caroline Crampton is web editor of the New Statesman.

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Is anyone prepared to solve the NHS funding crisis?

As long as the political taboo on raising taxes endures, the service will be in financial peril. 

It has long been clear that the NHS is in financial ill-health. But today's figures, conveniently delayed until after the Conservative conference, are still stunningly bad. The service ran a deficit of £930m between April and June (greater than the £820m recorded for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year) and is on course for a shortfall of at least £2bn this year - its worst position for a generation. 

Though often described as having been shielded from austerity, owing to its ring-fenced budget, the NHS is enduring the toughest spending settlement in its history. Since 1950, health spending has grown at an average annual rate of 4 per cent, but over the last parliament it rose by just 0.5 per cent. An ageing population, rising treatment costs and the social care crisis all mean that the NHS has to run merely to stand still. The Tories have pledged to provide £10bn more for the service but this still leaves £20bn of efficiency savings required. 

Speculation is now turning to whether George Osborne will provide an emergency injection of funds in the Autumn Statement on 25 November. But the long-term question is whether anyone is prepared to offer a sustainable solution to the crisis. Health experts argue that only a rise in general taxation (income tax, VAT, national insurance), patient charges or a hypothecated "health tax" will secure the future of a universal, high-quality service. But the political taboo against increasing taxes on all but the richest means no politician has ventured into this territory. Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander has today called for the government to "find money urgently to get through the coming winter months". But the bigger question is whether, under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour is prepared to go beyond sticking-plaster solutions. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.