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Prisoners: Genetics

Volume 464: debated on Monday 15 October 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 16 April 2007, Official Report, column 498W, on prisoners: genetics, of the 5,400 prisoners identified as not having a profile on the database why no more than 3,722 subsequently had a sample taken. (155193)

[holding answer 12 September 2007]: The report cited in the 16 April 2007, Official Report column 498W, is from 2003. It used a comparison of prisoner records with the Police National Computer (PNC) and the National DNA Database. As many identity profiles were not exact, it was necessary for methodological reasons to undertake manual checking within individual prisons to confirm matches. Due to the “snapshot” nature of the study some of the prisoners had been released by the time sampling teams reached the prison in which they had been held.

There are good reasons for believing that those in prison now are on the DNA database. Police powers to take and retain DNA were extended in 2001 and 2003 so that DNA could be taken from anyone arrested for a recordable offence.

Since 2000, forces have received funding, first through the DNA Expansion Programme and then through general Police Grant, enabling them to take DNA samples from all eligible individuals. It is now standard procedure to take DNA and fingerprints in the custody suite when someone is arrested.