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Genetics: Databases

Volume 472: debated on Thursday 21 February 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many DNA samples are on the national DNA database. (181241)

‘DNA samples’ refer to biological material, either taken from individuals, or from traces left at crime scenes. These samples are analysed to produce code numbers, known as profiles, which are stored on the national DNA database (NDNAD). On 21 January 2008, the NDNAD held 319,677 profiles from crime scenes, and profiles relating to 4,290,925 individuals, loaded by all United Kingdom police forces.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what percentage of DNA samples on the DNA database are from people who have not been convicted of any crimes; (181242)

(2) how many people who have never been convicted of a crime have a sample of their DNA on the national DNA database.

I refer my right hon. Friend to my answer to the hon. Member for Hornsey and Wood Green (Lynne Featherstone) on 13 December 2007, Official Report, column 761W.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department for how long the Government retain the DNA records of individuals who are not found guilty of committing an offence. (181946)

Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984, the police have the power to take and retain DNA from anyone arrested for a recordable offence and detained in a police station.

PACE does not set a limit on retention. Instead, the police follow retention guidelines issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), which state that records will normally be retained for 100 years from the person’s date of birth, regardless of whether they are still alive.

ACPO also issued guidance to chief officers on the consideration of applications for removal at the end of January 2006. The ACPO guidelines envisage that DNA which has been taken lawfully will be removed only in exceptional cases, though discretion remains with the chief officer. The then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, my right hon. Friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham), made a written ministerial statement announcing the issue of these ACPO guidelines, on 16 February 2006, Official Report, column 117WS.