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Police: DNA Database

Volume 698: debated on Monday 4 February 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the stages of the process of removing an innocent individual's data from the National DNA Database. [HL1292]

Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE), the police have the power indefinitely to retain profiles on the National DNA Database (NDNAD) derived from samples taken from persons arrested for a recordable offence and detained in a police station, regardless of whether they are charged or convicted. While the decision on whether to agree to a request from an individual to have their DNA profile removed from the NDNAD lies with the chief officer of the force which took the sample, profiles will normally be retained unless there are exceptional circumstances.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) issued guidance to chief officers on the consideration of applications for removal at the end of January 2006. The then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Andy Burnham, made a Written Ministerial Statement relating to the guidance on 16 February 2006, (Official Report, col. 11 7WS) a copy of which has been placed in the Library.

ACPO has tasked a specialist unit within Hampshire constabulary (known as ACPO Criminal Record Office (ACPO CRO)) to assist chief officers in arriving at a decision, by providing examples of how requests have been dealt with in other forces and offering advice. However, the final decision remains with chief officers, who are not obliged to refer cases to ACPO CRO or to agree with its recommendations.

The procedure recommended by ACPO CRO is that, on receipt of a request for deletion, the force should ensure that sufficient detail is available to identify the applicant correctly. The applicant will be invited to state the grounds upon which they believe their case to be exceptional. The chief officer is asked to consider any response and either reply to the applicant rejecting the application for the removal of the record(s), or refer the case papers to ACPO CRO, who will provide advice based on any relevant precedents held.

The chief officer will then decide whether to retain or remove the record(s), and respond directly to the applicant with notification of this decision. If it is decided to remove the profile, the police force will inform the NDNAD, and the profile concerned will be removed.