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Government announces proposals for DNA retention

Government announces proposals for DNA retention

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 11 November 2009

A series of proposals designed to ensure the right people are on the National DNA Database, as well as defining when people should come off was announced by Home Secretary Alan Johnson today.

DNA and the use of forensics play an essential role in fighting crime and providing justice for victims. The UK has been recognised as the world leader in developing the use of the national DNA database and catching criminals through reviews of cold cases.

Between April 1998 and September 2009 there were more than 410,589 crimes with DNA matches, providing the police with a lead on the possible identity of the offender.

Following a public consultation which received more than 500 responses, the Government has listened to the range of comments and proposes to:

* remove profiles of all adults arrested but not charged or convicted of any recordable offence after six years;

* remove profiles of 16 and 17 year old juveniles arrested but not charged or convicted of serious offences after six years;

* remove profiles of all other juveniles arrested but not charged or convicted of a recordable offence after three years, regardless of age at arrest; and

* retain DNA profiles of all juveniles convicted of all but the most serious recordable offences for five years, and indefinitely for any further convictions.

In addition, the proposals include plans to destroy all DNA samples, such as blood, urine or mouth swabs used to create the DNA profile that is added to the database. The Government also plans to give police new powers to take DNA samples from anyone convicted abroad, or convicted before the creation of the DNA database in 1995.

The Government intends to continue retaining the DNA profiles of all adults convicted of a recordable offence indefinitely, as well as the profiles of all juveniles convicted of the most serious offences, such as murder, rape, manslaughter and serious assault.

Under the proposals, fingerprints will be retained for the same time periods as DNA profiles.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said:

"It is crucial that we do everything we can to protect the public by preventing crime and bringing offenders to justice. The DNA database plays a vital role in helping us do that, providing thousands of crime scene matches every year and helping to put many criminals behind bars where they belong.

"It is vital that we maintain the capacity of the DNA database to provide as many detections as possible by making sure the right people are on it. But we must balance this with the consideration of when other people should come off.

"I believe the proposals I am announcing today represent the most proportionate approach to DNA retention, as well as the most effective way of ensuring the database continues to help us tackle crime."

NOTES TO EDITORS

1. The proposals follow a public consultation - 'Keeping the Right People on the Database' - conducted over the summer. A summary of responses can be viewed at www.homeoffice.gov.uk

2. The Government has also published further research conducted as part of the development of these proposals. The full documents and a summary can be viewed at www.homeoffice.gov.uk

3. The number of crimes with a DNA scene to subject match between April 1998 and March 2009 was 410,589.

220/2009

Contacts:

Home Office Press Office
Phone: 020 7035 3535
NDS.HO@coi.gsi.gov.uk

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