DNA Database Purge; Victory for the Mail as Records of 1m Innocent People Removed

Daily Mail (London), February 12, 2011 | Go to article overview
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DNA Database Purge; Victory for the Mail as Records of 1m Innocent People Removed


Byline: Jack Doyle Home Affairs Correspondent

AS many as a million innocent people will have their DNA profiles removed from the police's database in a major victory for the Daily Mail.

Ministers confirmed yesterday that rules around whose genetic fingerprints are stored on the Big Brother files will be radically altered as part of moves to restore traditional liberties.

Under laws introduced by Labour, police could take a swab of DNA from any suspect, extract a unique profile and hold on to it indefinitely.

It led to suspects arrested for minor offences being on the database, even if they were cleared in court, or if police admitted they had made a mistake.

Critics even suggested some officers had taken to making arrests in order to obtain DNA profiles and increase the numbers with their genetic data on record. Yesterday, Coalition ministers announced wholesale changes to the regulations around whose DNA could be retained.

Under the Protection of Freedoms Bill any adults convicted of any crime will stay on the database for life, as will under-18s convicted of serious offences.

Profiles of terror suspects will be held for three years initially, with police able to apply for two-year extensions if it is needed on national security grounds.

However, anyone arrested, but not convicted, of minor crimes such as low-level assault will have their DNA profile deleted. Those who fall under suspicion for serious crimes will have their DNA held for three years, with a judge's approval required to hold it for a further two years.

The Protection of Freedoms Bill also includes measures on jury trials and CCTV cameras.

Under the previous government, the national DNA database became the largest per head of population in the world and held around six million profiles.

However, police admitted it helped solve only one in every 1,300 crimes reported, and one in 350 crimes solved.

Civil liberties groups campaigned to have the database scaled back and the policy of holding profiles indefinitely was ruled unlawful by European judges three years ago.

Belatedly, Labour made changes to the rules - but these were never brought into force.

Last night Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the Bill would result in an 'unprecedented rolling back of the power of the State'.

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DNA Database Purge; Victory for the Mail as Records of 1m Innocent People Removed
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