Police say sorry for 'gay DNA' scandal

Police who took DNA samples from men for having been gay have apologised after The Argus exposed the scandal. 

Sussex Police had turned up at the houses of three men who had been convicted of the now repealed offence of gross indecency, and asked for swabs.

The law, originally used to convict homosexuals, was repealed in 2003.

The swabs were taken as part of Operation Nutmeg, which aims to solve historic cases by using DNA samples from rapists, murderers and child sex abusers.

But those solely convicted of gross indecency had also been included in the operation.

Those who refused to co-operate could have been liable for arrest.

Now Sussex Police has backtracked on the approach and apologised to the three men.

A statement said: “Although police have the legal power to request these samples and all three men voluntarily provided them when asked, Sussex Police recognises this was not in the full spirit of the legislation and we apologise for any distress caused.”

The Argus reported how two of the men had been so concerned after the incident they had called the Brighton LGBT Switchboard to ask about their legal rights. 

And James Ledward, editor of Brighton-based G-Scene magazine, had demanded an apology from the force. 

Sussex Police conceded “a more considered approach” should have been taken. Officers will now no longer look to take DNA samples from those convicted of the repealed offence.

A spokesman added: “We encourage anyone with concerns that they may still have a criminal record due to these repealed offences to request its removal.

“We can provide guidance to help with this.

“We will also be contacting the three people who have already provided samples, apologising for any distress caused and offering to assist them to apply for their conviction to be removed from the national database, which will result in the DNA samples we have already taken being destroyed.”

So far more than 130 samples have been taken in Sussex as part of Operation Nutmeg.

Comments (8)

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6:43pm Sat 26 Jan 13

Morpheus says...

Why do they need to have the continued distress of applying for the convictions to be removed? It should just be done by the police and without delay.
Why do they need to have the continued distress of applying for the convictions to be removed? It should just be done by the police and without delay. Morpheus

8:55pm Sat 26 Jan 13

Freeloaders says...

imnotpc wrote:
i think its absolutely disgusting that the police have to apologise just to be 'pc'.Why? they are just doing their job.And come on there's a lot of sicko's/pervs out there
I know the public aint much better also.Please wake up my friend.Only this week yet another police sergeant keeps his job after a string of complaints of touching up PCSOs.Iv lost count of the amount of storys about coppers up to know good in the Argus over the last 12mths.In most cases they always keep their jobs,and you can be sure they keep their pensions.
[quote][p][bold]imnotpc[/bold] wrote: i think its absolutely disgusting that the police have to apologise just to be 'pc'.Why? they are just doing their job.And come on there's a lot of sicko's/pervs out there[/p][/quote]I know the public aint much better also.Please wake up my friend.Only this week yet another police sergeant keeps his job after a string of complaints of touching up PCSOs.Iv lost count of the amount of storys about coppers up to know good in the Argus over the last 12mths.In most cases they always keep their jobs,and you can be sure they keep their pensions. Freeloaders

9:23pm Sat 26 Jan 13

mimseycal says...

Morpheus wrote:
Why do they need to have the continued distress of applying for the convictions to be removed? It should just be done by the police and without delay.
No one is asking for convictions to be squashed. Merely that DNA garnered on the basis of a historic conviction, according to a now defunct law, be expunged from the DNA records.
[quote][p][bold]Morpheus[/bold] wrote: Why do they need to have the continued distress of applying for the convictions to be removed? It should just be done by the police and without delay.[/p][/quote]No one is asking for convictions to be squashed. Merely that DNA garnered on the basis of a historic conviction, according to a now defunct law, be expunged from the DNA records. mimseycal

12:29am Sun 27 Jan 13

qstevie says...

I don't thing imnotpc is going to get it. This isn't about being pc, it's about human rights. I thought that forcing people to take a DNA swab needed a warrant. And yes there are some sick people out there and perverts, the majority of which are straight. This is a law that was repealed, but obviously the police still hold files on everyone convicted. Why not just line everyone up, gay, straight, convicted, innocent and keep their DNA? That would definitely start people looking at human rights. I can't believe the police did this, and I'm glad they've made a sort of apology, which they wouldn't had it not been reported. The only sick person out there is whoever ordered this to be done and set up Operation Nutmeg. He, she or they should be ashamed of themselves.
I don't thing imnotpc is going to get it. This isn't about being pc, it's about human rights. I thought that forcing people to take a DNA swab needed a warrant. And yes there are some sick people out there and perverts, the majority of which are straight. This is a law that was repealed, but obviously the police still hold files on everyone convicted. Why not just line everyone up, gay, straight, convicted, innocent and keep their DNA? That would definitely start people looking at human rights. I can't believe the police did this, and I'm glad they've made a sort of apology, which they wouldn't had it not been reported. The only sick person out there is whoever ordered this to be done and set up Operation Nutmeg. He, she or they should be ashamed of themselves. qstevie

2:40pm Sun 27 Jan 13

BiggerH says...

this sounds like one of those 'I'm sorry if you felt upset by this' apologies.

Lawyer scum
this sounds like one of those 'I'm sorry if you felt upset by this' apologies. Lawyer scum BiggerH

7:24pm Sun 27 Jan 13

Dr.Draconian says...

Getting nicked for gross indecency had nothing to do with being gay, it was usually because someone was getting
/giving head in public.
The fact that some elements of the gay community have decided the law was anti-gay is a massive insult to that very community.
There are filthy perverts out there that have been convicted of this offence that were caught masturbating at kids in playgrounds, do you want their convictions overturned?
Getting nicked for gross indecency had nothing to do with being gay, it was usually because someone was getting /giving head in public. The fact that some elements of the gay community have decided the law was anti-gay is a massive insult to that very community. There are filthy perverts out there that have been convicted of this offence that were caught masturbating at kids in playgrounds, do you want their convictions overturned? Dr.Draconian

10:37pm Sun 27 Jan 13

qstevie says...

Just so Dr Draconian knows, it's not about perverts! Yes if you were gay and caught out in your car you were done for gross indecency. If you were straight and up to the same stuff, you were just moved on. Yes there are filthy perverts out there. There is nothing gay or straight about this - it's the fact that 3 gay men were compelled to give their DNA for no good reason.
Just so Dr Draconian knows, it's not about perverts! Yes if you were gay and caught out in your car you were done for gross indecency. If you were straight and up to the same stuff, you were just moved on. Yes there are filthy perverts out there. There is nothing gay or straight about this - it's the fact that 3 gay men were compelled to give their DNA for no good reason. qstevie

11:21pm Sun 27 Jan 13

mimseycal says...

Wrong, three men were compelled to give their DNA when they were convicted under a law which was at that time active. This law is no longer active and their DNA is still on record.

The DNA needs to be expunged from the records and all the DNA taken and kept under those circumstances should be expunged.
Wrong, three men were compelled to give their DNA when they were convicted under a law which was at that time active. This law is no longer active and their DNA is still on record. The DNA needs to be expunged from the records and all the DNA taken and kept under those circumstances should be expunged. mimseycal

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