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National DNA Database

Volume 485: debated on Monday 15 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department who is on the board which monitors the development of the DNA database. (240863)

The National DNA Database Strategy Board has responsibility for oversight of the National DNA Database, including the development of the database. Its current membership is set out in the following table.

National NDNAD strategy board—members



Mr. Gary Pugh, Director of Forensic Services, Metropolitan Police


Mr. Stephen Webb, Home Office Policing Policy and Operations Directorate

Core member, representing Home Office

Mr. Keith Mannings, Association of Police Authorities

Core member, representing APA

Mr. David Money, Devon and Cornwall Police Authority

Core member representing APA

Mr. Kevin Mathieson, Deputy Chief Constable, Tayside Police

Representing ACPO (Scotland)

Dr. Douglas Pearston

Scottish Police Services Authority

Professor Peter Hutton, University of Birmingham

Chair, NDNAD Ethics Group

Mr. Andrew Rennison

Forensic Science Regulator

Professor Stephen Bain, University of Swansea

Lay Member, representing HGC

Professor Sarah Cunningham Burley, University of Edinburgh

Lay Member, representing HGC

Dr. Simon Bramble

Head of Police Science and Forensics, NPIA

Dr. Michael Prior

NPIA NDNAD Custodian

Ms June Guiness

NPIA NDNAD Custodian DNA/Quality Adviser

Det. Insp. Stacey Dibbs, ACPO DNA Staff Officer


To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been (a) eliminated from inquiries and (b) charged as a result of the police DNA database in the last year for which figures exist; and if she will make a statement. (241998)

[holding answer 11 December 2008]: People may be eliminated from inquiries by the use of the National DNA Database (NDNAD) by two different methods.

The first method is by the standard operation of the NDNAD. When DNA profiles derived from traces found at crime scenes are loaded on the NDNAD they are automatically searched against the DNA profiles of all persons with a record on the NDNAD. If there is no match between the crime scene profile and the person’s record the NDNAD provides no reason for the police to investigate that person. In that sense, all 4.6 million persons on the NDNAD are eliminated by every search of a crime scene profile which does not match them. If there is a match, a report is sent to the police who can carry out further investigation of this lead.

The second method is by the use of intelligence led mass screens. These take place if the police may ask members of the public in a particular area to provide their DNA voluntarily. For example, all males under the age of 40 residing within five miles of a murder might be asked to provide a DNA sample to see if it matched DNA found at the crime scene. A cumulative total is kept of the number of such screens kept since the NDNAD was set up in 1995, rather than figures for particular years. Between 1995 and 31 October 2008, there have been 391 screens resulting in the elimination of 95,629 samples. DNA provided voluntarily is used only for that particular investigation and then discarded, unless the person concerned gives explicit written agreement for it to be retained permanently on the NDNAD.

Records are not kept of the number of persons charged as a result of use of the NDNAD, as charging reflects integrated criminal investigation which may involve both DNA and non-DNA evidence. However, records are kept of the number of DNA matches and detections. Matches refer to crimes where there is a match between DNA found at the crime scene and the record of a person’s DNA on the NDNAD. A detection means that a crime with a DNA match has been cleared up by the police. Crimes with a DNA match often also result in further detections for other offences (known as ‘additional’ DNA detections) as a result of further investigation linked to the original offence (in other words, the detection of one offence through a DNA match may also lead to other offences being solved e.g. because an offender on being presented with DNA evidence linking him to one offence confesses to other offences). In 2007-08 there were 37,376 matches, 17,614 detections, and a further 15,420 additional detections.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if she will bring forward proposals to remove from the national DNA database profiles of people who have not been convicted of an offence; (242009)

(2) if she will bring forward proposals to limit the length of time an individual's profile may be retained on the national DNA database based on the seriousness of the offence the individual was convicted of;

(3) if she will bring forward proposals to prohibit genetic research with material from the national DNA database.

DNA and fingerprints play an invaluable role in fighting crime. We are carefully considering how best to give effect to the recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights. We recognise the importance of the judgment and will publish our response to the court's findings as soon as possible.

Section 64 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 provides that fingerprints, impressions of footwear or samples shall not be used for any purpose other than that related to the prevention or detection of crime, the investigation of an offence, the conduct of a prosecution, the identification of a deceased person or the person from whom a body part came or in the interests of national security.