I received this information in a newsletter. I have come across info like this before but this time I can act on it. I can use my voice or my fingers, to sign a petition and I think it’s worth it. What do you think?
Such are the pressures of modern life that around 10% the UK population are diagnosed with a mental health problem each year. Such problems range from temporary symptoms of anxiety surrounding family illness, bereavement, job or home changes etc- to manic depression and schizophrenia.
Given that the incidence of mental stress appears to be on an upward trajectory, we might expect the government to be focussed on developing strategies to combat the underlying drivers which include poor housing, family dislocation and job insecurity.
However, our policy makers seem to be more concerned with ensuring that any individual requiring any form of mental health care has his or her genetic profile added to the national DNA criminal database. Given that members of the Black community are 50% more likely to be referred to the mental health services through the courts, guess who are disproportionately represented on the DNA database as a result?
Black Mental Health UK have launched a campaign to end this criminalisation of mental health patients which could lead to gross and possibly wilful miscarriages of justice. Specifically, BMH UK have launched a petition to the Prime Minister calling for the removal of the DNA profiles of those whose details have been collected as a result of simply accessing mental health services, but who have not been convicted of a crime. As Matilda MacAttram, Director of Black Mental Health UK put it, ‘ We believe It is imperative that patients, who are innocent of any crime, have their details removed from the DNA database, if we are to live in a society that does not criminalises those who need help.’
The 100BMOL stand full-square behind this initiative. Our President, Olu Alake, notes,
‘It is imperative that civilised societies protect all vulnerable members of society appropriately, effectively and efficiently. The current arrangements and proposals are patently unjust violations of rights, and will lead to distress and unwarranted over- representation of innocent and vulnerable members of the Black community in the criminal justice system. This must be resisted vigorously and we wholeheartedly support all such efforts.’
Please add your e-signature to the widespread efforts to end this madness by clicking on Mentalhealth-DNA
Thank you and keep rising.
Read more here
Jonathan · November 13, 2009 at 7:08 pm
Last week the Government announced that it intends to drop its proposal to retain the DNA of innocent people for up to 12 years. A recent European Court ruling held that there should be clear and justifiable reasons for holding onto the DNA data from people who have not been convicted of a crime.
100 Black Men of London has previously worked with other interested parties calling on the government to drop this proposal, culminating in a community event in August (which was jointly organised by Black Mental Health UK and GeneWatch).
We cautiously welcome this latest development. It is positive news that the government has listened to the concerns expressed by many people about the decision to retain DNA samples of innocent people. But we now expect that the government to go further and instruct the Association of Chief Police Officers to immediately change the guidance it has given to its members on this matter. It is also imperative that the government and ACPO also seize this as an opportunity to review how there was such a racial disproportionality in the data that had been collected and take due action to address this. We hope that the Home Office’s formal response to the EU ruling due at the end of the month reflects and addresses all these concerns.
We will continue to work with other interested parties to ensure that there is appropriate vigilance on this matter.
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