Police told to destroy DNA samples of the innocent

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The Independent Online

Ministers should instruct police forces to cease recording the DNA of innocent people immediately, the Equality and Human Rights Commission said yesterday.

Ten months ago human rights judges called for an end to the policy of storing samples from nearly a million people arrested but never convicted of any offence, saying it breached their privacy. But it emerged last month that officers were told to ignore the ruling, continue adding new samples and to resist requests to have them deleted until the law was changed. A Home Office consultation on changes to the policy closed more than a month ago but ministers are yet to publish their response.

The EHRC said the advice, issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers, was in breach of the law and called on the Home Office to clarify the law or face the prospect of "costly" legal action.

The HRC's Group director John Wadham said: "The police are at the forefront of the fight against crime. The importance of this fight cannot be underestimated but it should comply with the Government's legal obligation to protect the privacy of innocent people, as outlined by the European Court.

"The Government should take the opportunity to clarify the law now and avert costly legal action."