Gay DNA - Greater Manchester Police apologise

Publish Date: 18/01/2013

Earlier this week The Peter Tatchell Foundation reported on the story that; “Manchester and Northumbria police are visiting gay men convicted of consenting, victimless same-sex behaviour and demanding they provide DNA samples. In some cases, the men’s convictions date back three decades and were under homophobic laws that have since been repealed.”

One of the men affected was Stephen Close, who was stunned when detectives knocked on the door of his home in Salford and threatened to arrest him if he did not give a DNA sample.

http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/news/crime/s/1598002_former-salford-soldier-jailed-over-gay-affair-30-years-ago-involved-in-dna-police-row

In response to these events Greater Manchester Police have issued a statement referring to Mr Close’s experience and the issue of DNA samples taken from gay men that have been in the media this week.

DCC Ian Hopkins GMP


"At no point was his sample put on the DNA database nor was any information put on the Police National Computer."
Deputy Chief Constable Ian Hopkins, Greater Manchester Police

Deputy Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said: "Following a full review of all the circumstances Greater Manchester Police has decided to destroy DNA samples taken from Mr Stephen Close.

"At no point was his sample put on the DNA database nor was any information put on the Police National Computer (PNC)."

Apology

"A senior police officer visited him to update him on our position and to apologise personally about what has happened.

"We also thanked him for bringing this matter to our attention and as a result we are now reviewing the cases of those who have had samples taken and those still to be taken.

"I am very conscious of the very personal and sensitive issues raised by Mr Close in relation to his own case and that was clearly a factor in our decision making.

"The request for his DNA was made based on his full police record and the letter that was left for him only contained information which stated a DNA sample was required in relation to a recordable or qualified offence. No specific offences were outlined in the letter and any reports to the contrary are wrong.

"That said, in the case of Mr Close, our request was made without proper consideration of all the facts and once again for that I apologise.

"It is important for me, as Deputy Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, to reiterate that this was absolutely not about sexual orientation and I strongly refute any claims of a 'witch-hunt' by GMP or similar allegations that we are targeting the gay community.

"Setting aside that that is simply not true, the force has a strong and engaging Lesbian and Gay Staff Association and as an organisation we have spent a long time building strong relationships with our varying and diverse communities, of which the gay community is a significant and prominent one."

Challenging Historic gay sex convictions - what you can do

Thousands of men have been prosecuted over four decades for having sex with a partner aged 16 or over before the age of consent was equalised.

Gay sex between men over 21 was decriminalised in 1967.

The homosexual age of consent was reduced to 18 in 1994 and brought down to 16 - in line with the age of consent for heterosexual acts in 2000.

Current legislation now has the power to clear those charged with having gay sex with a person over 16 when the act was deemed illegal.

This legislation will remove these records, meaning gay men will be free to apply for charity roles and jobs with children and in hospitals without having to disclose the conviction during Criminal Records Bureau checks.

The Protection of Freedom Act was given Royal Assent on 1 May 2012 and came into force from 1 October 2012.  It establishes powers which means that certain convictions under the 1956 Sexual Offences Act will be erased from police and other official records by application from those who have been affected by committing a former criminal offence.

Anyone who meets certain conditions laid down in the Protection of Freedom Act will be entitled to apply to the Home Office for a formal disregard of those convictions, cautions, warnings or reprimands for consensual gay sex with someone over the age of 16.

You can read more about that here:
http://www.lgf.org.uk/Your-rights/deletion-of-historical-gay-convictions/

To apply for convictions to be removed visit the Home Office website:
http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/crime/decriminalised-sexual-offences/

The LGF encourages anyone who may be affected to apply to have such convictions removed. We offer support and advice on this issue. 

Call our helpline on 0845 3 30 30 30 or email helpline@lgf.org.uk