Government defeat on DNA database

November 5, 2008 by stanza Leave a reply »

The government has been defeated in the House of Lords over the issue of keeping peoples’ DNA and fingerprints on the police national database.

The UK has the largest police DNA database in the world – with more than four million people on file.
“If the government wants a universal DNA database it should say so, not smuggle one in through the backdoor,” Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said.

Ministers believe such guidelines could hinder their plans for a counter-terrorist database as releasing details of material obtained covertly, through surveillance, could be dangerous.

The government says such a database is vital for public protection but opposition MPs have criticised the step as “Orwellian”.

Who runs the database?

A department in the Home Office is responsible for the day-to-day running and its work is overseen by a board composed of the Home Office, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Police Authorities.

Can children be included?

Yes but there are no legal powers to take a DNA sample from anyone under 10 without the consent of a parent or legal guardian.

Under-18s also make up nearly a quarter of all arrests so the Home Office says a “comparative proportion” of profiles is to be expected.



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