DNA profiles removed at rate of only one a day

Craig Woodhouse,Press Association
Thursday 14 January 2010 12:11 GMT

Innocent people's DNA profiles are being removed from the national database at a rate of barely one a day, figures showed today.

Home Office minister Alan Campbell said just 377 profiles were deleted in 2009 after appeals to police chiefs.

Liberal Democrat policing spokesman Paul Holmes, who uncovered the figures through a written parliamentary question, described the situation as a "disgrace".

Mr Holmes said chief constables were being discouraged from removing the genetic fingerprint of innocent people until new legislation is passed, which he insisted would not happen before the general election.

The DNA database for England and Wales holds over five million profiles - the largest per head of population in the world - including an estimated one million people with no criminal conviction.

The Government has been forced to change the rules surrounding the database after the European Court of Human Rights said that holding the profiles of innocent people indefinitely was disproportionate and a breach of privacy rights.

Mr Holmes said of the figures: "It is a disgrace that we have got a million innocent people on the database in the first place and it is a disgrace that people are not being taken off.

"A lot of people are absolutely furious about this. The court ruling went their way and yet nothing is happening.

"Police forces have got the discretion to remove profiles, yet some are and some aren't."

Recent research showed there was a "postcode lottery" for people seeking to have their profiles removed, with huge disparities in the number of requests granted by different police forces under the "exceptional case procedure".

Some forces refuse to remove any records once a case is closed while others complied with more than 80 per cent of deletion requests.

Proposed new legislation would stop all profiles being held indefinitely, with most innocent adults having their profiles deleted after six years.

But critics argue suspects who are arrested but later found not guilty or never charged should automatically have their profiles removed.

Earlier this month the Chief Constable of West Midlands Police said DNA matches from the national database help solve only one crime in every 150, though the Government insists it is key crime-fighting tool.

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