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Crime: DNA Database

Volume 694: debated on Wednesday 25 July 2007

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Identity (Meg Hillier) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Further to the Written Ministerial Statement made by my right honourable friend the Member for Leigh (Andy Burnham) on 16 February 2006, on the subject of the National DNA Database, I am pleased to announce that we are establishing an ethics group to provide Ministers with independent ethical advice on the operation and practice of the National DNA Database (NDNAD).

The ethics group will be chaired by Professor Peter Hutton, professor of anaesthesia at the University of Birmingham. Its membership will be as follows:

Mrs Wendy Coates;

Ms Madeleine Colvin;

Mr Michael Menlowe;

Dr Andrea Pearson;

Dr Clive Richards;

Dr Sarmeer Sarkar;

Ms Sarah Thewlis; and

Dr Suzy Walton.

The ethics group is being established as an advisory non-departmental public body. Its role in relation to the NDNAD will include:

reviewing the appropriateness of policy and practice;

ensuring the maintenance of high ethical standards in decision-making; and

ensuring that the public interest is properly served in relation to the way in which DNA samples and profiles are provided and stored.

The ethics group will also provide advice on:

research applications that involve access to NDNAD samples or data;

operational services provided by suppliers that rely on access to NDNAD samples or data; and

matters referred to it by Ministers; by the NDNAD strategy board or on its own initiative.

The ethics group will submit a formal report by the end of April each year and this will be published by the Home Office.

I am arranging for the protocol that will govern the operation of the ethics group to be placed in the Library.