DNA details of thousands may be cut from database

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The Independent Online

Thousands of innocent people could be removed from the national DNA database under plans being considered by ministers.

Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, said yesterday that about 70 children under 10 would have their profiles removed from the system immediately, while detailed proposals would be published next year to remove details of some of the 850,000 people without a conviction who are on the database

But she stopped short of pledging to remove the DNA profiles of all people cleared of an offence, insisting the system needed to be "as tough as possible" to ensure that criminals were caught and convicted. Ms Smith also revealed she was considering changing the law to take DNA samples from serious offenders who are in prison but were convicted before the database was created in 1995. The Government is also seeking powers to allow police to take samples from serious offenders who have been released from jail.

Ministers have until March to respond to a European court ruling which said keeping DNA samples of people with no convictions was a breach of their human rights. Among proposals being considered are a time limit on the storage of samples, similar to the system in Scotland, where they are destroyed after five years. Other plans include assessing the seriousness of leged crimes to determine whether a suspect's details should be retained. The DNA samples of many child offenders could be removed at 18.

Ms Smith made it clear that she did not support removing all DNA records from people who had been cleared of an offence. She cited the case of Sally Anne Bowman, whose killer was convicted on DNA evidence based on a sample taken following a pub brawl for which he was acquitted.

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