I don't think i am over-reacting. This article (pasted below) from the Guardian confirms fears from previous articles in various media of this paranoid delusion and endless fear of others (how can we all be afraid of others and all the while with the claim we ourselves are the innocent ones - then who is actually to blame?), especially youth. Guilty until proven innocent is the new maxim. The final word in nature vs nuture. Maybe it's an Orwellian Criminocracy.
The idea is that we screen kids, and add them to the growing (without public debate, god only knows why) DNA database that the UK holds. You get added to this database even if you are not a suspect, just a witness. Why? Because we are all potential criminals now. Guilt hangs on our genes.
With children the tones hace grown increasingly Orwellian. There was talk last year in various circles of pyschological screening at the very youngest ages to identify criminal traits, and to monitor behaviour in schools to indicate future criminal behaviour. I am not sure whether these people, these desk bound think-tank and policy gurus, realise the extent to which modern society generates self-fulfilling prophecies? If you mark someone as young as 5 as a criminal and start to treat them differently (special classes, psychology, monitoring, taking their DNA), and they will know why, will they not feel resentment and isolation? The kind of feeling which pushes people to the edge of society and thus likely increases the risk of crime? (In much the same way that racist xenophobes treat immigrants with circumspect, expecting them to commit crimes, never giving them jobs and repelling them with this fear, leading to the inevitable conclusion that some can only get by by crime in the end).
Another very serious point in this discussion, is this idea of a Criminocracy. I recently read Michael Young's 'The Rise of the Meritocracy' (1957), a part historical, a part fiction account of social engineering in the UK from 1870–2033. This demonstration of the modern, and old socialist theme, that overcoming caste structures and structuring society on merit, allowing freedom for all according to their own ability, leads to a more perfect class system in the end. One built on intelligence, because our society(ies) value intelligence and usefulness to the economy more than any other values (creative or social etc). To ensure peope of all origins get their chance to rise to the top, intelligence tests are introduced at earlier and earlier ages until the scientists are sure they can pick the best babies and place them on a different route through life from the start. No one has room to argue, each according to their ability is the mantra. It leads to an underclass from the outset, before they even begun their lives.
I can see this being applied in much the same way, in time, to this issue. If tests highlight them or their parents as being liekly to give birth to a future criminal, if the school reports indicate 'possible criminal', they are to spend the rest of their lives being discriminated against before any action to be guilty of has been committed. Would a business employ a 'likely' criminal? no.
Why condemn people to a life at the periphery from the outset? What makes us so sure of the causes of crime? Why this fear, so inflated by the a cynical and inflammatory media?
Crime is not a natural product or state, it is a function of society. Can we not work towards removing the social causes of crime and take the media to account of their endless hysteria of what might be? Can we not assume that each child born should be given the best chance at life and that they deserve the right to form as they wish in an environment free of judgement based upon psuedo-science?
I'm not denying that crime exists, or denying the anger i feel when witnessing the needless crime that exists in every town. I just don't believe that this is what people really want. Or that it is bringing about some kind of internal societal war betwen the good and the bad.
For me, not even Orwell or Huxley or Young ever imagined this would occur now. The ultimate separation of state and its people has occured. The state, instead of being some members of society chosen to serve the people asbest as they can, has become a separate being, paranoid and afraid of its citizens. It needs to protect itself, and a mythical section of people it identifies with, from ordinary people who don't understand its great work. From people who might get upset with the state.
The passing of youth always seems to eradicate our memories and empathy for the youth we once were. We close our blinds to reality and seek to keep a moment of now reached in adulthood for the rest of our life, distancing ourselves from those who are different. The generational gap is nothing new, but we threaten much more than just the children being born with these policies, we threaten all of society with the damage it may create. If more food for thought be needed, the UK, whilst liberal in many sense, is not that far from a police state in policy now. The very notion that we have reacted to terrorists (who despise our way of life it is alleged) by curtailing our own freedoms and lowering our standards on human rights and privacy and international law, suggests the battle is lost. The new battle is to restore trust and respect within the state, to restore the freedoms and rights that so many worked so hard for.
Put young children on DNA list, urge police
· 'We must target potential offenders'
· Teachers' fury over 'dangerous' plan
Primary school children should be eligible for the DNA database if they exhibit behaviour indicating they may become criminals in later life, according to Britain's most senior police forensics expert.
Gary Pugh, director of forensic sciences at Scotland Yard and the new DNA spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), said a debate was needed on how far Britain should go in identifying potential offenders, given that some experts believe it is possible to identify future offending traits in children as young as five.
'If we have a primary means of identifying people before they offend, then in the long-term the benefits of targeting younger people are extremely large,' said Pugh. 'You could argue the younger the better. Criminologists say some people will grow out of crime; others won't. We have to find who are possibly going to be the biggest threat to society.'
Pugh admitted that the deeply controversial suggestion raised issues of parental consent, potential stigmatisation and the role of teachers in identifying future offenders, but said society needed an open, mature discussion on how best to tackle crime before it took place. There are currently 4.5 million genetic samples on the UK database - the largest in Europe - but police believe more are required to reduce crime further. 'The number of unsolved crimes says we are not sampling enough of the right people,' Pugh told The Observer. However, he said the notion of universal sampling - everyone being forced to give their genetic samples to the database - is currently prohibited by cost and logistics.
Civil liberty groups condemned his comments last night by likening them to an excerpt from a 'science fiction novel'. One teaching union warned that it was a step towards a 'police state'.
Pugh's call for the government to consider options such as placing primary school children who have not been arrested on the database is supported by elements of criminological theory. A well-established pattern of offending involves relatively trivial offences escalating to more serious crimes. Senior Scotland Yard criminologists are understood to be confident that techniques are able to identify future offenders.
A recent report from the think-tank Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) called for children to be targeted between the ages of five and 12 with cognitive behavioural therapy, parenting programmes and intensive support. Prevention should start young, it said, because prolific offenders typically began offending between the ages of 10 and 13. Julia Margo, author of the report, entitled 'Make me a Criminal', said: 'You can carry out a risk factor analysis where you look at the characteristics of an individual child aged five to seven and identify risk factors that make it more likely that they would become an offender.' However, she said that placing young children on a database risked stigmatising them by identifying them in a 'negative' way.
Shami Chakrabarti, director of the civil rights group Liberty, denounced any plan to target youngsters. 'Whichever bright spark at Acpo thought this one up should go back to the business of policing or the pastime of science fiction novels,' she said. 'The British public is highly respectful of the police and open even to eccentric debate, but playing politics with our innocent kids is a step too far.'
Chris Davis, of the National Primary Headteachers' Association, said most teachers and parents would find the suggestion an 'anathema' and potentially very dangerous. 'It could be seen as a step towards a police state,' he said. 'It is condemning them at a very young age to something they have not yet done. They may have the potential to do something, but we all have the potential to do things. To label children at that stage and put them on a register is going too far.'
Davis admitted that most teachers could identify children who 'had the potential to have a more challenging adult life', but said it was the job of teachers to support them.
Pugh, though, believes that measures to identify criminals early would save the economy huge sums - violent crime alone costs the UK £13bn a year - and significantly reduce the number of offences committed. However, he said the British public needed to move away from regarding anyone on the DNA database as a criminal and accepted it was an emotional issue.
'Fingerprints, somehow, are far less contentious,' he said. 'We have children giving their fingerprints when they are borrowing books from a library.'
Last week it emerged that the number of 10 to 18-year-olds placed on the DNA database after being arrested will have reached around 1.5 million this time next year. Since 2004 police have had the power to take DNA samples from anyone over the age of 10 who is arrested, regardless of whether they are later charged, convicted, or found to be innocent.
Concern over the issue of civil liberties will be further amplified by news yesterday that commuters using Oyster smart cards could have their movements around cities secretly monitored under new counter-terrorism powers being sought by the security services.