Govt DNA plans under fire

By Ian Dunt

The author of the research which provided the backbone to government plans for retaining DNA on the database has questioned whether it can be relied on to construct policy.

The government was forced to issue new rules on the retention of innocent people’s DNA n the database after a European Court of Human Rights ruling staressed the currrent arrangements were illegal.

It’s eventual suggestions – for a six and 12 year limit depending on the crime the person has been acquitted of – were based on research by the Jill Dando Institute for Crime Science.

But this morning, Gloria Laycock, director of the insitute, told the research was not ready when it was referred to by government.

“The issue was how long should DNA be retained for and we did a quick piece of work to a very tight deadline just to get a slight handle on it,” she said.

“It was better than nothing I suppose. Although I’m happy it’s a reasonable piece of work, it was published before it had been polished.

“We would have wanted to check the statistics. Because of the deadlines it was published rather quickly,” she continued.

“They need to put some proper effort into doing a proper comprehensive piece of work.”

Under current Home Office plans, DNA profiles will be kept for 12 years if the person was not convicted of a serious sexual, violent or terrorist-related crime, and six years for other crimes.