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A person added to DNA database every 45 seconds

Press Esc | August 4, 2007
Angharad Llewelyn

A person is added to the National DNA Database in the United Kingdom every 45 seconds, an opposition MP warned amidst reports that the Home Office has been urged to allow police to take DNA samples for offences such as dropping litter.

In an answer to a Parliamentary Question by Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Clegg MP, the Government admitted that 722,464 profiles were added to the DNA database during 2006, and that further 154,496 were added this year.

British authorities collect DNA samples of all suspects, including those who are released without charge, and the records are kept permanently.

"The Government's onward march towards a surveillance state has now become a headlong rush," Clegg said. "They seem determined to hoover up the DNA details of as many people as they can, regardless of guilt or innocence. We already have by far the largest DNA database in the world, and these figures make it clear just how fast it's growing."

Advocacy group GeneWatch UK criticised the latest attempts by the Home Office to vastly expand the DNA database claiming that permanent retention of records on innocent people and people convicted of minor offences is unprecedented in British history.

"The Home Office is losing public trust in the police use of DNA", spokesperson Dr Helen Wallace said. "DNA can play an important role in solving crimes, but keeping everybody on the Database permanently is a step too far. The recent massive expansion of the Database has not increased the crime detection rate".

UK has the worlds largest DNA database both in absolute and proportionate terms. More than 4.2 million people, or about seven per cent of all British people are on the database.

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