So the DNA of innocent people will ‘only’ be kept on file for three years. One day is completely unacceptable. If less than one percent of cases are solved using the DNA database, they’re not spending all that money to maintain it to fight crime. It’s for something else. In the US, DNA is being sent to the military for research. Why? Should we be taking a closer look at the kind of warnings well placed people like Aldous Huxley made about the use of eugenics technology in Brave New World?
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Alan Travis, The Guardian
March 8, 2010
MPs’ report ahead of key vote says DNA profiles of inncent people should be kept for no longer than three years
Government proposals to keep the DNA profiles of innocent people for up to six years have been rejected by the Commons home affairs select committee.
The MPs’ report, published in advance of a key Commons vote on DNA, says they are not convinced that such a long retention period will lead to any more cases being cleared, let alone getting more convictions.
Instead, the cross-party committee backs a maximum period of three years for the police to keep the DNA profiles of those people they arrest but release before they are charged or convicted.
The home affairs committee says its short inquiry has concluded that as few as 0.3% of crimes are detected as a result, at least in part, of matching crime-scene DNA to a personal profile on the national DNA database.
The Commons votes later today on whether to back the government’s proposal for a six-year retention period when MPs debate the report stage of the crime and security bill. The House of Lords is expected to reject the proposal, and the issue could prove one of the most contentious in parliament before the general election.
Keith Vaz, the Commons home affairs select committee chairman, said balancing the potential benefit of retaining the DNA profiles of the unconvicted against the threat to individual privacy was complex.
“We don’t have good information about how many later detections arise from this data,” he said. “We do not think we should go back to the situation where DNA is only taken on charge, not arrest, but it is vital that it is made easier for those wrongly arrested, or who have volunteered their DNA, to get their records removed from the database.”
He said he expected new guidance from the Home Office to allow for profiles to be removed from the database in a far wider range of cases.
Home Office ministers are expected to concede that a new DNA strategy board should become a central co-ordinating body for handling individual applications for the deletion of DNA records. At present, chief constables have the sole discretion to respond to individual requests, leading to a postcode lottery in the application of the deletion policy.
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