Sunday, June 15, 2008

David Davis used to support CCTV and the DNA database

Interesting looking back at the Conservative Party Manifesto 1997:

* Closed circuit television has proved enormously successful in increasing public safety.

We will fulfil the Prime Minister's pledge to support the installation of 10,000 CCTV cameras in town centres and public places in the 3 years to 1999. We will provide £75 million over the lifetime of the next parliament to continue extending CCTV to town centres, villages and housing estates up and down the country that want to bid for support.

* Our national DNA database - the first in the world - now has over 112,000 samples on it. 3,300 matches have so far been made between suspects and crime stains.

David Davis ran on this manifesto and the voters in his constituency endorsed it - so was he fibbing to them all along? We should know. If he felt so strongly, why didn't he make a protest to John Major, right at the inception of this project?

Of course the Labour government kept the DNA database and CCTV. They were good ideas. DNA is simply a biometric marker, just like fingerprints. No-one is arguing for the fingerprint database to be scrapped. Perhaps people simply think the word "DNA" sounds all science-fiction and scary, whereas the word "fingerprint" is familiar. But should policy be made based on whether certain words frighten the public?

Interesting to note that of the 112,000 samples collected prior to 1997 from "suspects", only 3000 were found to be a match (i.e. 3000 people out of the 112,000 were guilty). This is a similar ratio to that of fingerprints collected. You usually have to check out loads of people to find the one guilty person. This is normal. Why are Tories suddenly being so silly about this? Especially as they pioneered the use of CCTV and the DNA database?

The other point to make is that most CCTV is actually used by private companies. Bluewater for instance has CCTV everywhere - it helps them monitor shop-lifting and the like. Marks and Spencers and other retailers have CCTV in all their stores. Would the Tory campaign against CCTV compel these companies to remove them? What does business think about this all? Businesses would never spend hard cash on the cameras and for CCTV upgrades unless they felt that it really helped them.


Anonymous said...

anyone who thinks Davis is a libertarian isn't dealing with a full deck....his stunt is purely tactical...

Andrew Brown said...

Davis has also been a strong supporter of random drug testing children, which can't be seen as extending their civil liberties.