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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Victory on DNA?

The government has announced that it is dropping its current proposals to retain the DNA profiles of innocent people on the national database.

The Guardian says that the Home Office has announced that its plan to keep the DNA profiles of those arrested – but never convicted of a crime – for between six and 12 years depending on the seriousness of the offence has been dropped from the policing and crime bill that is going through parliament. A European court ruling in December found it was unlawful to keep the DNA details of 850,000 innocent people indefinitely on the national database.

However, campaigners cannot afford to relax. Although the Government is obviously trying to conform with the European court ruling they have not said what will happen to existing DNA samples of innocent people held by the police. Chief constables have already been warned by the Home Office to ignore the European court ruling and carry on adding the DNA profiles of the tens of thousands of people they arrest to the national database.

Secondly, the Government backdown does not appear to be on a matter of principle but because they were likely to lose the vote in the House of Lords and needed to get the legislation through before the Queen's speech. We still await the Government's final proposals on how they will address the European ruling. Until then we cannot claim anything but a temporary victory.


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