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Men convicted of the now-repealed offence of “gross indecency” will no longer be asked for samples.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 Previously, men convicted of consenting behaviour under the now-repealed offence of “gross indecency” had been asked to provide samples.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: http://bit.ly/YmJMm7

“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 a writer and podcaster. She was formerly an assistant editor at the New Statesman.