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DNA: Databases

Volume 494: debated on Thursday 18 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what applications to use data from the national DNA database for research purposes have been submitted to his Department since 15 January 2008; and if he will make a statement; (271101)

(2) what applications to his Department to use data from the national DNA database for research purposes have been refused since 13 June 2008; and if he will make a statement.

Two research applications have been submitted to the National DNA Database (NDNAD) Strategy Board since 15 January 2008. One application was from the European Network of Forensic Science Institutes (ENFSI). The ENFSI group has been awarded EC funding to improve the efficiency of DNA data exchange throughout Europe. In order to do this, it is necessary to build a computer simulation model to determine the current efficiency of DNA databases and to carry out a predictive analysis of the effect of not increasing the number of European core loci (i.e. the number of elements of DNA which are common to different countries’ profiling systems). This application is still being considered.

The second research application was from a specialist working group set up by the Forensic Science Regulator to verify the outputs of familial search algorithms. “Familial searching” is the term used to describe the process of searching the NDNAD for profiles which are similar but not identical to a DNA profile left at a crime scene. Such searches are approved only in serious cases and can provide police with a lead on the identity of an offender by providing matches with possible family members. This application has been approved.

No research applications have been refused since 13 June 2008.