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DNA evidence will still harm your employment prospects

Back in August I wrote about DNA Evidence Can Be Fabricated http://www.finextra.com/community/fullblog.aspx?id=3190

County Durham police last week put the final nail in the coffin of the Home Office mantra "nothing to hide, nothing to fear", with a clear announcement that DNA and fingerprinting could harm an individual’s career prospects – even if they are otherwise totally innocent. 

[Declaration – I don’t condone the use of recreational drugs for non-medical reasons – except malt whisky]

The warning came in a press release relating to mephedrone, which began by establishing that the substance remains legal to possess – until the government determines otherwise – but illegal to sell for medicinal purposes.

The release observes that "its chemical formula is one molecule different to ecstasy and as such dealers are claiming is not a controlled substance." This would in fact make mephedrone a different chemical substance from ecstacy – in much the same way that carbon monoxide is not the same as carbon dioxide.

However, it is in police remarks relating to the consequence of possessing mephedrone that the greatest concerns are to be found : "anyone found with it will be arrested on suspicion of possession of a banned substance. They will be taken to a police cell, their DNA and fingerprints taken and that arrest, depending upon enquiries, could have serious implications for example on future job applications." 

Durham police were asked for clarification of what possible serious implications there could be for an individual found in possession of a legal substance who had their fingerprints or DNA taken. It was speculated that perhaps some employers would ask prospective job candidates about details not merely of convictions, but of all contact with police – and therefore having DNA taken could adversely affect job prospects for that reason. 

[Confession : I was subject to a Stop & Search at Gunpoint under Section 44(1) of the Terrorism Act 2000 at Gatwick Airport at midnight on 24th July 2002 - I still have the 'receipt' from Sussex Police - should I declare that?] 

Meanwhile the Home Office are still sticking to their line that DNA testing in and of itself can have no consequence for an individual : "Employment checks are not linked to the DNA database and employers cannot check if a potential employee is on the DNA database."  

Therefore, the official line continues to be that DNA testing is an innocuous process and, as ever, "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" – unless you live in County Durham.

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Keith Appleyard

Keith Appleyard

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