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Police: Databases

Volume 698: debated on Wednesday 6 February 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the retention of bioinformation profiles for those not charged with or convicted of an offence has a significant impact on crime detection rates. [HL1514]

Information on the number of crimes that have been detected using DNA profiles and fingerprints taken from suspects who had, previously been arrested but not charged, or convicted, of an offence is not held centrally as detections are achieved through integrated criminal investigation and not by forensic science alone.

Some research information is, however, available on the number of DNA profiles taken from those arrested but not charged and from those arrested, charged but not convicted of an offence that have resulted in a DNA match, thus providing the police with an intelligence link on the possible identity of the offender and assisting in the detection of crimes.

In April 2004, an amendment to the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 came into effect which enabled the police to take and retain DNA and fingerprints from persons who had been arrested for a recordable offence. In the period April 2004 to December 2005, the retention of DNA profiles of arrested persons who had not been charged or proceeded against had resulted in matches with crime scene profiles from over 3,000 offences including 37 murders, 16 attempted murders and 90 rapes.

In May 2001, an amendment to PACE 1984 came into effect which enabled the police to retain DNA samples taken from persons who had been charged but not convicted of an offence. In the period May 2001 to December 2005, an estimated 200,000 DNA samples taken from people charged with offences had also been retained on the National DNA Database, which would previously have had to be removed because of the absence of a conviction. From these, approximately 8,500 profiles of individuals have been linked with crime scene profiles, involving nearly 14,000 offences. These offences included 114 murders, five attempted murders, 116 rapes, 68 sexual offences; 119 aggravated burglaries and 127 of the supply of controlled drugs.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many individuals have been given access to the National DNA Database for the purpose of non-operational research; and, of those, how many were given access to datacards as well as DNA records. [HL1517]

The Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) states that DNA samples and the profiles derived from them can only be used for the purposes of prevention and detection of crime, the investigation of an offence, the conduct of a prosecution or, since April 2005, for the purposes of identifying a deceased person.

Requests for the release of profiles or samples must be approved by the National DNA Database (NDNAD) Strategy Board. In the first instance, requests are made to the custodian of the NDNAD, who provides the board with details of the request, together with his observations on its merits, for the board to consider. In accordance with the requirements of PACE, the board does not approve any research unless it has clear operational benefit to the police.

Therefore, no access to the NDNAD has been given to any person or organisation for non-operational research.