Call to remove innocents from DNA database

A special citizens’ inquiry into the national DNA database has called on the government to take innocent people’s DNA off the database and place control over it to an independent statutory authority.

It also calls for a vigorous nationwide campaign on the use of DNA testing and retention and for the ethnicity of people who give their DNA to not be recorded.

The inquiries results follow the revelation that the Home Office gave private companies details of people’s DNA from the database, sometimes for reasons of ethnic profiling.

“All the experts and the public agree that innocent people should be removed from the DNA database,” said Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesperson David Howarth.

“There must be better ways of catching criminals than spending millions of pounds of taxpayers money adding innocent people to the DNA database.”

The citizens’ inquiry was commissioned by the Human Genetics Commission (HGC), a government advisory body.

Alice Maynard, chair of the working group set up by the HGC to commission the Inquiry, said: “We made a deliberate decision to recruit a diverse panel with a significant black and ethnic minority membership so that we could hear from a wide spectrum of people and especially those whose opinions are not often heard.

“They did not speak with one voice – but we did not expect that they would.”

NO2ID’s general secretary, Guy Herbert, said: “The current police policy, of taking samples at every opportunity and refusing to delete any, will see the lives of millions of the tax-paying, law-abiding population recorded alongside alongside convicted criminals, and is unacceptable.”

The Conservatives welcomed the finding and said the government should follow many of the recommendations.

Shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve said: “Currently the DNA database targets the innocent but not all the guilty.

“All serious offenders should be put on the database – and there must be safeguards to protect the innocent.”

Former Home secretary David Davis recently won his by-election battle in Haltemprice and Howden on the issue of civil liberties, which included the presence of innocent people on the DNA database.