Lord Justice Sedley has said everyone in the UK ought to be on the national DNA database. Sedley LJ is a current or former Communist, so the only surprising aspect of this incident is that he ever got to be a senior member of the judiciary, despite once believing in the abolition of private property and the consequent requirement of all individuals to conform with whatever behaviour those who control food and shelter dictate.
It’s not clear what Sedley LJ’s beliefs are nowadays, but here’s an indicator, from The Register: “Sedley argued that, contrary to received wisdom, it would boost the civil liberties of citizens to put everyone on the database because it would be fairer.” This is an example of the pernicious fallacy that no word has its true meaning in the absence of equality. If you have democracy in your society, but there’s inequality, well, you don’t really have democracy, comrade. If civil liberties are enjoyed more by the rich than the poor, well, no-one has civil liberties, et c., et c. The reported speech above really does suggest that something will be increased if it’s decreased for everyone but those who’ve already had a bit of it taken away from them.
What occasioned these remarks was the fact that there are, per capita, more black people on the existing DNA database per capita than in the general population. The reasons for this of course are the slight correlations between black skin and poverty, poverty and crime, crime and likelihood of arrest, black skin and likelihood of arrest, and black skin and likelihood of having one’s DNA sample taken when arrested.
So Sedley is cunningly abusing the uncritical attitude most people have towards measures combatting racial discrimination to support his attack on privacy and autonomy. Vicious.
Here’s his figleaf: “for the absolutely rigorously restricted purpose of crime detection and prevention.” He’s pretending that there can exist any such thing as a rigorous restriction on what can be done with a database. Now of course, he may be insane, as after all he did have to suffer hearing R v University of Cambridge ex p Evans  ed CR 151. As a judge, he must be aware that sometimes things don’t work out as planned, and that people break laws, and those laws get amended. What’s to stop the repeal of his rigorous restrictions, and what criminal or spy would obey them on stealing the database? He knows this, yet ignores it as he slips off his judicial wig to enter political debate.
He should rigorously restrict himself to his judicial work and criticising Orwell’s Animal Farm, and only mislead public debate if prepared to step down as a judge.
This database has people who’ve been charged with crimes but not convicted, and thus affords the police a list of potential suspects for future crimes; I’m sure they don’t want it polluted by the addition of tens of millions of law-abiders. Whether motivated by sheer egalitarianism or flying under its colours, pressure for the database to be expanded should be resisted. It is not too weak an analogy of Sedley’s thinking to suggest that criminals are underrepresented in senior judiciary and some should be appointed thereto post haste; if there aren’t enough innocent white people on the database to balance the numbers, all the innocent people on it should be removed. Anyone whose conviction is spent should have his record removed as part of his rehabilitation.
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