Page last updated at 19:51 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 20:51 UK

Should the DNA database be trimmed?

Up to 850,000 DNA profiles will be deleted from the national database after the European Court of Human Rights ruled innocent people must be removed. Do you agree with this decision?

We are having serious technical problems with the usual Have Your Say service which our engineers are working to fix.

In the meantime we are using the form on the right to ask for your comments. We will aim to publish as many of your views as we can.

We apologise for any inconvenience.

Read the editor's update on this fault

Your comments:

The authorities want the public to be vigilant. I am one of those having my DNA retained and as a result have decided that as I am criminalised then I will not report anything or act as a witness. I am polite to the police and have told them when asked for information that I do not convey information as a matter of principle because of this particular issue.

After you and your families, Mr Brown and colleagues.
Jaida, Edinburgh

I'm from Catalunya, Spain, and for me its illogical to be in a DNA database just because some day I could do some crime. How it will finish this? Like Minority Report?????
Guillem , Barcelona

I think everybody should have DNA taken at birth and put on a Database. I don't think it's just about solving petty crimes. I think it's about being able to identify missing persons that might turn up in hospitals or even worse the morgues. And maybe it would deter anyone from committing a crime in the first place. There are a lot of pluses to this and only people who have something to hide don't want it. What about Human rights of people who have been affected by crimes which is probably more than the people worried about their rights? They are just petty!
Karen Wilkinson, Leeds

Depends how you want to live, in relative freedom with the presumption of innocence, or in an Orwellian society that presumes everyone guilty until proven innocent. As someone has already said, this is more about population control than crime detection.
Mark Phillips, Wakefield

The new biometric British passport, coming in this year, will use unique iris scans to identify the holder. We should not have unidentifiable people in our society. Everyone should be on the DNA database as a very cost effective deterrence to serious crime and this should not be an issue for the law abiding majority.
Jon, Hampshire

The government has no right to catalogue innocent people's DNA, the real tragedy is the fact we have to rely on a European court to protect a fundamentally British concept of liberty.
Jon Doyle, Portsmouth

This is more evidence of the governments lack of respect for the hard won liberties which once defined who we are. The idea that every man is free from intrusive surveillance and interference from the state unless proven guilty is about as fundamental as it gets. Where will this end? I understand Charles Clarke when he says he's ashamed to be a Labour MP - so he should be.. They're a disgrace and an embarrassment
Catherine Brown, London

The law needs to recognise that the vast majority of citizens are innocent, and criminals are only a very tiny minority of the population. At least the following minimum safeguards need to be put in place:
* DNA evidence alone should never be sufficient to establish guilt. (Not only is it possible to plant DNA, but some people with a rare genetic condition have two DNAs in their body; and identical twins are indistinguible by DNA alone, since they have the same DNA.)
* The DNA of people arrested and subsequently released without charge should be removed immediately.
* The DNA of people who have repaid their debt to society should be removed once convictions are spent.
* Stored DNA should be automatically inadmissible as evidence of newly-created crimes, i.e. acts which were not illegal when the sample was originally provided.
AJS, Derby, UK

The DNA database is distinct from the database of criminals; what used to be the National Criminal Intelligence Service until SOCA took over IIRC. I'm quite a fan of DNA; anything to avoid fingerprinting dead bodies and ringing up endless dentists to look at dental records; simple, quick and positive ID of a body or unconscious casualty, allowing us to inform NOK quickly. DNA is simply a barcode; it says nothing about you. Mine has been on record for all the years I've been in this job; it worries me not a jot.
PS Dave, Leeds

Absolutely not. And everyone else should be on government DNA databases. Humanity has shown it is basically selfish and destructive and it needs controlling.
Robert Sinclair Shand, Town, Caithness

We have a corrupt government who have proven time and time again that they cannot be trusted with data and some people want to give them more?! Many criminals are cunning and smart and will plant misleading DNA at crime scenes to try and escape detection. This will lead to increased policing costs and stress to many innocent people. My DNA, as is all of yours, is probably at many crime scenes-any one of us may have been in a shop before it was robbed or touched a knife in a shop before it was bought and used to kill someone. the only reason the police aren't wasting their time with most of us is because the DNA is not matched to an existing record. By having criminals data it focuses energy on them first and hopefully finds the guilty party and gets them off the streets. by all means if no-one matches they can start with the non-recidivist population. I'm not giving my DNA so that it can be planted at a scene. We also need a society that isn't so naive to believe DNA=guilt. DNA is not proof!!!
Jemma, Manchester

I believe the current DNA database does not go far enough. It is our data, our resource. If everyone had their full sequence stored, then public health research (using anonymous data) would benefit enormously - and crime could still be solved. If everyone were included, then we could stop quibbling about who is in/not in and concentrate on having a secure system, held by an accountable non-government body to keep a very tight reign on who has access. It is our resource and we should use it for our benefit, not throw it out with the bath water.
Clive, Cardiff, Wales

As a former police officer I can testify that it is common practice for wholly innocent people to be arrested in order to facilitate investigation. If there has been a fight outside a nightclub it is difficult to establish victims from offenders at the scene. To solve this all parties will be arrested and subsequently held for several hours whilst an investigation reveals who the aggressor or aggressors were. The victims from these crimes before being released are swabbed and recorded on the DNA database after doing no wrong whatsoever. In my experience, this is an every day occurrence and leaves victims of crime wondering why their DNA is taken, when their arrest has merely been a technicality from a police point of view.
Richard Burnell, Birmingham, England

"It's only a matter of time before some human "rights" group (fronted by a human rights lawyer) decides there's money to be made by arguing that criminals' records should be deleted too." Jack, London
How wrong you are, my Daily Mail reading friend. We do this job for the good of the people; to protect the human rights which day-by-day are being derogated by the Government.
Leslie Bour, Manchester

I think that DNA should be kept for the time allowed because sometimes rulings on sentences can often be overturned and if a criminal is released and another crime is committed their DNA can be ruled out of the investigation.
Lynne Frost, Liverpool

Where is this presumption that having your DNA sequence stored in a database is in any way associated with guilt coming from? So what if you are in the same database as criminals? There is absolutely nothing wrong with having been a suspect proven innocent, or been arrested accidentally. The DNA database is not about who is guilty and who isn't. So what if someone gets hold your your DNA sequence? Here's a portion of my DNA... ATCGGCATCGATCGTA... Oh no? What's that? You can see me naked? Having DNA on record can vastly improve the chances of catching criminals for many many reasons. Of course there has to be other evidence, but DNA can generate leads when there would otherwise be none. Having everyone's DNA from day one would greatly increase chances of catching first time offenders, not just repeat offenders (providing that the were even caught and had samples taken in the first place). So please, could someone please tell me why this is a bad thing? For those of you who are thinking of saying "it's an invasion of privacy", stop jumping on the bandwagon and think for just a minute... how does ATCGTAGCTACGAT affect your privacy? Oh I see... you want to go out and brutally murder someone? Now I see why you object.

Don't forget that this "victory" for civil rights is utterly pointless. When the ID cards come in, the government will hold DNA, fingerprints and even more information on even more people - to lose, or leave on a train...Again.
Jon, Castleford

There is no valid scientific proof whatsoever that DNA profiles are unique and can identify unique individuals with the certainty required to meet the legal burden of proof.

No! It should be expanded to taking it at birth. It is knowledge that will do far more good than harm.
L.W.Acres, Southampton, UK

"Details of those cleared of crimes - or never even charged - will still be held for six years, or *12 in cases of serious violent or sexual offences*".
What is the possible relevance of the crime someone was being investigated-for, if they've been found innocent? Regardless of your position on the DNA database, anyone not found guilty of a crime should be treated the same way... because they're *not guilty*. This is akin to arguing that DNA samples should be kept for different lengths of time depending on whether they were taken on a Wednesday or a Friday - it's an irrelevant, ridiculous and unequal distinction that harms innocent people, simply because they were *suspected* of a particular class of crime. The point of the law is that you're innocent until proven guilty. This ruling destroys that precedent, allowing you to be victimised or treated differently simply because you have been *accused* of a crime, even if you're subsequently proven innocent.
James, Essex, UK

I welcome this, knowing the cavalier approach taken by the police. I know of 2 innocent people arrested because of accusations made by people with an axe to grind. They were arrested and imprisoned in a cell, one was pregnant, and kept in overnight. As the accusations were unfounded they were both released but informed their DNA and fingerprints could not be removed from the database! I have no desire to live in a 'Big Brother' state and applaud this ruling.
RG, South Coast

Could the DNA database supporters comment on my idea that everyone should be tagged with a GPS locater so that the Government can check everywhere they go? This could help save and solve lots of crimes and if you have nothing to hide, what is your objection?
Andrew Carter, London

A number of people seem confused about what DNA data is held. It is not your entire data, just a minimum amount of information to (hopefully) ensure uniqueness. So no selling the information to insurance companies. All the "hold on to it for acquitted people in case they re-offend" commenters might consider moving abroad to a country that has a "guilty until proven innocent" system, since they clearly dislike British Justice.
NDNADB, Birmingham

I'm staggered at the ignorance of even the rudiments of law shown here. DNA evidence proves nothing, not even the presence of the person who's DNA was found. It is a only a weak circumstantial indicator. Storing profiles of even convicted criminals is utterly pointless. Once defence lawyers learn a bit of science, the police will have to start doing a bit of work again.
Tom, Exeter, UK

If people are innocent why then the concern over samples of DNA being held in a bank or do some of those innocents have a guilty conscience? Comments on freedom or privacy etcetera are nothing other than hot air spoken by the Lilliputians of society. The freedom we have needs to be protected and if this helps, then why not keep samples?
Robert Park, Kirriemuir, Scotland

The depressing thing is that this Government will lumber on with its plans whatever public opinion says as they believe they are 'right' about everything.
Andrew Carter, London UK

Without a shadow of a doubt. Mistakes have already been made and one gets the feeling the Police arrest as routine to expand their data base. Pity we need the EU to tell our Government what is decent and fair.
Dan d Lyon, behind the wire

So there's now no "Innocent until proved guilty" in this country? I despair of what this shower of idiots has done to this country, the sooner they are kicked out the better.

DNA records should be taken off because of human rights. You are innocent until proven guilty. Liberty is a human right.
Steve, Brighton

No, 850 thousand times not! (pardon the pun) This is not about surveillance, but giving the police a valuable tool to work with. I would hate to think that for the sake of the civil liberties people (who I do often agree with) that a serial murder or rapist is not caught by their DNA not being recorded at some previous time. I personally would be happy to be at the front of the queue for having mine sampled.
Grumpy Old Goat, in the North

For all those in support of the retention of the wholly innocents' DNA, I recommend a read of the ECtHR's judgment. The key words are not "blanket and indiscriminate", but also that these provisions are "not necessary in a democratic society".
Zak Golombeck, Manchester

How naive, like the magical number of alcoholic units per day, we are given an another magical figure for the likelihood of re-offending. We are one step away from a national DNA database that could be analysed by any agency the resident government in power (or its allies) wishes to invent, to implement whatever legislation they see fit, for the benefit of the people depending on their political aspirations. You may be a model citizen now, but your genetic makeup has already marked you my friends. Be careful what you wish for ....
GB, Manchester

After being arrested for assault some years ago my DNA was taken. I was never charged as the accusations were a complete fabrication. However, I have no problem with my DNA being kept on record. Say there was a serious sex offence in my local neighbourhood and the victims vague description matched me, if there was unidentified DNA evidence the police could immediately rule me out of the investigation and concentrate on those males whose DNA had not been on file. If I have nothing to hide I have nothing to fear.
Alan Schofield, Haywards Heath, West Sussex

Do we get to choose which genes will be trimmed? I've never really liked the colour of my eyes.
Dahlia, Michigan USA

If you're proven innocent then there is no reason for your DNA to be kept. Many men in my area had their DNA taken in relation to a still unsolved murder yet the police have kept these samples on record. This country is getting dangerously close to realising Mr Wells' nightmare of Nineteen Eighty Four.
Rebecca Bradbury, Exeter, UK

No person not currently serving a custodial sentence or on the sex offenders register should have their DNA profile retained. Just because your DNA has turned up somewhere is by no means proof that you have been there.
James, London

If this is such a good idea, why haven't we had all police officers sampled, and why have none of our senior politicians and civil servants been sampled along with their families?
Mihangel apYrs, Cardiff

The problem stems from this country's complete distrust in its government. There are clear benefits to a DNA database but there are major problems with it as well. Say there is an armed robbery at a bank, there may have been hundreds of people walking in and out of that bank all day depositing their DNA on surfaces. How do you differentiate the DNA of the robbers from the innocent customers? All DNA matches found in the bank would then have to provide an alibi or face a police investigation into where they were. First of all, that's way too much work for the police to do, second we don't have enough labs to test that much DNA, and third, its a complete misdirection of resources. Fight the causes of crime and crime itself disappears, don't wait till after the fact to solve it. The big problem this government is not trusted by a large proportion of the the population and cannot convince them of anything now. Headless chicken springs to mind.
James, Ely

Forgive me if this is a stupid question, but what exactly is the problem with a DNA database. If the information on it is accurate and reliable, and is only available to the police, and only then to assist their crime solving duties, then what have innocent people to worry about? [I have no connection with any security forces or with Liberty.]
Leslie Weston, Edinburgh, Scotland

It is my understanding that this government wants to own your DNA, thus, owning you and any future offspring - it's all part of the big brother globalization plan!
Ian, Halifax

No one is ever "proved innocent" in a UK court - an accused IS innocent until they are are found guilty by (in most cases) a jury of citizens. The minister's comments to justify keeping innocent people's DNA on the database this morning - "a further crime" and "re-offending" - were chilling.
Susan, UK

What crimes is DNA supposed to be useful for solving? Surely it is only of value where body fluids, or bits of body, have been left behind. Rape yes, Murder yes, Assault yes, Kidnapping yes, Burglary perhaps, Mugging perhaps. What else? Are we looking to keep DNA on vast numbers of people so that it may help in solving a few crimes? Probably. Are we such a criminal society that everyone needs to be identifiable just to find a few?
Keith Cooper, Rotherham, UK

Hands up if you trust the government with our information? No! to DNA database.
Douglas, York, UK

No the database should, if anything, be expanded to include everyone in the interests of health research and peace of mind. At the very least no one would ever die unknown and alone.
Julia, Cranbrook

DNA is a good way to identify people, be it in an accident or a crime scene. As long as the database is restricted to official use, and not to be used by private healthcare providers to determine premiums. Those who have nothing to hide should not worry. Its very hard to "spy" on people with DNA, currently DNA fragments are still quite hard to reproduce accurately, even with PCR where mutation is a major problem. We leave DNA pretty much everywhere we go, but DNA is very fragile and lots of cross contamination occurs. The DNA database will also help various health organisations to use Genomics to find correlation with certain illnesses. A national database would help with research into disease mechanisms, susceptibility, treatment and also for justice for be correctly carried out.
Tianzuo Huo, London

I find the changes after a court ruling unacceptable and despair at the comments that seem to confirm that the police only arrest guilty people and if they are shown to be innocent they are lucky but the police will get them eventually. If this is the case dispense with courts and criminal justice and return to England pre Magna Carta. The police say your are guilty so therefore you are. Absolutely mindless stupidity. May I never be on trial with these idiots as jurors but if they have their way we can dispense with all that waste of time anyway. On the database so you must be guilty. European Court help us!

Only DNA on those actually convicted should be kept. If no match can be found with the current or past cases at the time of an arrest then DNA should be destroyed on acquittal/release. Otherwise it's just an electronic method of 'rounding up the usual suspects'. Possibly there should be a third option for a jury of 'not proven' as in Scotland when DNA could be kept for a limited period say 5 years.
Roger, Stockport, England

I was arrested for a crime I did not commit and they took my DNA and prints and I had not done anything wrong, the cps kicked it in the teeth within 24 hours of the police submitting it to them, I want my DNA removed from the system now as it was taken without my consent!
Steve, Cardiff

Option 1: If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear so everyone should be on the database. Option 2: Innocent until proven guilty - so only after a guilty verdict at trial should data be entered on it. Simple really, but as usual the incompetent mismanaging money wasting government that let this get to the European Court in the first place can't get innocent data off the thing for 12 years! What a mess. Thanks Gordon
Martin Callan, London

Does the fact that the government's DNA database has been proven to be illegal mean that the police will take samples of government minister's DNA and cross-reference it against evidence from every recorded crime? Personally, I think that the fact that you have nothing to hide, doesn't give the government the right to compel you continuous evidence to that effect.
Neeb, Diss, UK

Having your DNA on file causes you no inconvenience whatsoever, but could potentially lead to the identification of someone who commits a crime against you in the future. Worth the trade-off surely?
Nick Taylor, Lancaster, UK

"So we have to be careful how this is approached as many guilty parties escape justice because of weak points in evidence or complaints being dropped, they know they are guilty..." In this country you are supposed to be innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, if you are acquitted then you are innocent of that crime. End of story. I personally believe that keeping DNA of innocent people an infringement of civil liberties. I don't see any government ministers (particularly Jacqui Smith) jumping in line to be the first innocent people to be swabbed. Lead by example is what I say.
Simon, Cambridge

DNA records on people with no criminal record; ever-burgeoning numbers of publically-controlled CCTV cameras; identity cards etc etc etc. It seems to only thing awry in "1984" was the selected year. We all know what is going on, but no one provides the answer to "why."
Keith Rowland, Wellington, Somerset, England

I have always wondered which of my human rights is being damaged here. The only one I can come up with is my human right to get away with murder. I'm not sure that I should have that right.
Burn Em All

As with most things people are anti until something that it will solve affects them personally. Look at all the crimes committed decades which are now being solved through modern DNA techniques.
Ron Cartmale, Stoke on Trent

Why don't we just take a DNA sample off every child born in the UK? That way NuLab can criminalise everyone from the minute they are born. Yes, if that child then grows up to be a drone (aka model citizen) then fine and dandy. But what if that child wants to rock the boat? Become inconvenient to the establishment or someone with 'connections'. Am I being paranoid? All I am saying is that for every technological innovation ever invented, the number of uses has pretty much always been matched by a capacity for abuse.
Daishik, UK

Everyone should be on it. Why not?

Why does my DNA being on a database harm me? Whether I am guilty of a crime or not is irrelevant as to whether my DNA is on the database! DNA can help establish suspects for a crime which can only be a good thing. To destroy this valuable resource is ridiculous! If my DNA is taken I have no problem with it being kept on file for identification purposes. In fact I think there should be a program of adding everyone to the database.
Toby, Nottingham

I just don't get it...Why is it an issue if innocents DNA is kept on file? How can this possibly be a problem unless someone is planning to break the law at some point, or think they might. The DNA database solves crime after crime that would otherwise not be solved or would take much longer and cost the tax payer an inordinate amount of money. Never mind the further crimes committed by the criminal. If your child was killed, house burgled or what ever else, by someone who was at large only because their DNA had been erased I bet you wouldn't be shouting civil liberties. A persons responsibility is to society and not to themselves. Ever since the Me Me revolution, the "government owes me" the "its my right" we have a country that has no respect for anything but themselves and "their rights" and it is and will continue to be our undoing. It is a persons right to live in a safe and law abiding society. It is the governments job to create a safe and law abiding environment for its people. Achieving this by using what tools it needs for the greater good of society as a whole not for every individuals whim. If taking DNA helps achieve this goal, saving us all money, cutting down crime and solving crimes then so be it. Take it at birth if needs be but don't waste an invaluable tool. Some of these busybody do-gooders need to leave their ideological, "intellectual" dinner parties and come live in the real world.
James W, Birmingham

For people who are all for DNA databases, have a long hard think about what you're all jeering for and what damage could be done if a FUTURE rogue government, hacker or other criminal gained access to such a database. 1 day you're minding your business abiding the law, the next your framed for a major crime and whisked away and held for 42 days... What if a future police force/government sold this information to third parties i.e. insurance companies and you find your insurance premiums rocketing because you are related to someone who had something wrong with them. In theory a DNA DB is a good idea, but long term a very very bad idea and the risks far far outweigh the benefits! You may not being doing anything wrong and have nothing to hide now, but what about the future... 10 years ago who'd have thought photographing a policeman could be a crime! Just think about it....Plus who's to say they won't be able to use your DNA to clone an you in the future. Your DNA is a representation of you! Be sure you're 100% sure you're happy before being categorized like cattle before agreeing to such things..... Brave New World.
Stuart, Sussex

I think that everyone's DNA should be taken at birth and recorded in the police database. It is the best crimefighting tool ever developed whilst having no impact on civil liberties. I hate CCTV which is highly intrusive and can be used for mass surveillance but DNA analysis is a precise tool that has none of these drawbacks.
Phil, Truro

Who on earth would want the government to have their DNA on file? Even if you trust today's government (and I can't even see how any can do that), how do you know if you can trust the government in 5 years time, or 10 or 20 etc? What's next, pet style microchips at birth for all children? And can anyone who claims "they have nothing to hide" say that hand on their heart they have *never* broken any law and will *never* break any future law (including the ones that haven't been thought up yet)?
Alistair Gunn, York, UK

Next time I go on a crime spree I shall make sure I take some DNA from the hairdressers, any glasses you drink from in public, tissues you discard and leave them at my crime scenes. The police will be too busy locking you up to bother to chase me - I've never been caught. Nothing to hide now?
Tom, Holsworthy UK

I'm one of the people whose DNA is stored on the system even though in the eyes of the law I'm innocent. I think that if it helps to solve murders, rapes and assaults, the police should be allowed to keep my DNA as long as they want. Anyone who is willing to let murderers and rapists stay on the streets just so that they don't have to keep their information on a database is selfish and immoral. How would they feel if one of their loved ones was murdered and the crime couldn't be solved because the DNA match had been taken off the system?
Andrew, London

Why does my DNA being on a database harm me? Whether I am guilty of a crime or not is irrelevant as to whether my DNA is on the database! DNA can help establish suspects for a crime which can only be a good thing. To destroy this valuable resource is ridiculous! If my DNA is taken I have no problem with it being kept on file for identification purposes. In fact I think there should be a program of adding everyone to the database.
Toby, Nottingham

This information belongs to the individuals not the Govt. so the Govt. should only store it on their database if they have the permission of the owner - is that really too difficult for them to understand or comply with ?? I think the EU court needs to fully enforce their decision to delete records of innocent people - NOW!
Peter, Aberdeen, UK

"If everyone had their DNA taken and stored, surely almost every crime would then be solved? Tim, Yorkshire"
DNA evidence is very hard to find at a crime scene, and often not found. Shows like CSI might make it look like it's an amazing solution, but in fact it is trivially simply to taint the scene of a crime with other DNA, or to not leave traces. It's like CCTV, just a means of tracking, monitoring and controlling the people of a country. One day they might make something a crime that you do often (e.g., smoking, drinking, walking the dog) and they could find that ciggie stub, analyse it, and bam! you're fined. I must also say that the number of people willing to give up their essential liberties as free, innocent people in the ID card and DNA database topics is shocking. Your grandparents fought and died in wars to get these freedoms, they burned their ID cards in the 50s when they were discontinued, and now you want to let the government look after you! The "if you have nothing to fear" line is not true, one day they can give you something to fear, when it is too late for you to do anything about it.
JeeBee, London

What staggers me here beyond belief is that a lot of people just see this DNA database as a way of fighting crime and keeping the populous in check. I believe the database is being used for far more than that. I believe its future progress and development will have us all wishing we never allowed it to exist in the first place. We are in dangerous territory here and I am untrusting of any Govt that wants to keep my DNA on file.
Adam, Cambridge

As soon as charges are dropped, the CPS decides not to charge an individual, or that individual is acquitted, all information about the individual should be removed from police systems - not just DNA. We might be able to trust the current authorities - a big 'might' - but there is no doubt that, at some time in the future, we will face extremism that will make 30s/40s Germany look like a Utopia. The less information authorities hold about us the safer I feel.
John Robson, Solihull

What's the problem with having your details on the database - if you are not involved with criminal activities. The P.C. lot are loving the influence that they can bring to their latest scare-hyped campaign. The benefits to the crime fighting authorities cannot just be thrown away, surely. If one of your family were to be the victim of a crime, and the DNA evidence was there to incriminate the perpetrator, could YOU ignore it and tell the investigators not to use it, even if it meant that there was no other way to progress the case?
Sid Webb, Isle of Wight, U.K.

I believe that everyone's DNA should be kept in the database. This would increase the ability of law enforcement agencies to solve crimes and protect victims. If people have nothing to hide then why worry?
Lisa, Newcastle

The British Isles has one of the best police forces in the world. Yet we have one of the highest crime rates of the western world. What is it that causes this, is it the economic climate regionally and nationally? That it is believed that we are considered by our own population as well as the rest of the globe as a 'soft touch'? Or is it the pure complacency by the police when it comes to the more 'minor' crimes. Although there are often many arrests we have a conviction rate of 34%. Generally due to not enough evidence. Now if these peoples DNA were to be kept, when their escapades escalate and a major crime takes place as always does when they become more confident. There may be evidence that can link them directly at the scene, and yet people wish for this vital information to be taken away. The only people who will moan about their DNA being kept on file, are those with something to hide!
Bradley Etheridge, Maidstone

The Government spokesman on Radio 4's Today this morning, repeatedly claimed those who are arrested/have DNA taken go on to commit further crimes (even though as John Humphries pointed out, they hadn't committed the first crime.) In the light of this odd link held dear by the Government, I would like to know what sort of response is expected, the next time a Police appeal is issued for all local men to report for DNA sampling following a (typically) serious sex/child crime is committed. Given that sample is likely to be held for many years "in connection with...(a serious crime)" on the Government dB, I believe many men would think twice about responding.
S Donlon, Hampshire

Sorry - I fail to see how this is a valid argument. If you are innocent then what is to stop you offering your DNA anyway to prove it? why does it already need to be in a database? It doesn't change over time! John Byng, York, UK
I think you have missed the point. Someone who was wrongfully convicted used DNA evidence to clear himself, but anti-DNA groups campaigned against the over turning of the verdict, this is because this is a positive use of DNA which can be used to counter there argument.
Andy, Bournemouth

Given the mentality of policemen who decide who's guilty and then try to find the evidence to prove it, hat's to stop someone taking some DNA from a hairbrush and suddenly "finding" it at the crime scene. This is almost as sinister as Tony Blair saying children growing up in "anti social" families should be taken into care before they've committed a crime for their own protection.
Peter, London

If governments were benevolent, kindly institutions with no previous evidence of persecuting innocent people through surveillance then I'd be all for it - but as we know the former is not and never will be the case.
Wardy, Ipswich UK

Of course the DNA for innocent people has to be taken off the register. If they are found to be innocent then the police have no justification for keeping their DNA on record. The argument that 'such and such a person *might* commit a crime in the future, so we should keep their DNA on file' is completely against "Innocent until proven guilty". Details deleted immediately someone is shown to be innocent, not in 6-12 years.
Phil, Glasgow

Firstly people appear to be under the belief that their inclusion in such a database would suggest that they are in some way guilty of a crime. What is being proposed here is not necessarily to keep a record of the DNA of guilty parties but to keep a concise database that can be utilised in many positive ways, i.e. to catch criminals or as mentioned in a previous comment to trace relatives. The key issue would be the security of any data held within the database. Provided these issues are addressed there can surely be no argument against a database that will allow many more criminals to be caught and families re-united. I say where do I donate my DNA!?
A N OTHER, Swansea

You live in a flat, and cut your face shaving. A speck of blood falls to the carpet. You don't realise it. A few months later, you move out and some woman movies in. A few month after that she is murdered. Police comb the house and find your blood and your DNA. You are arrested for murder and locked up, because your DNA was there and DNA evidence is never wrong. Or at least you have to go to court and fight for your innocence and lose your job and get a criminal record for being a suspect. Very bad idea!
Simon, England

I never cease to be amazed at the profound naïveté of those who say there is no problem with storing this information for someone who has committed no crime. Point 1: even the most self-righteous Mail/Express reader has probably committed minor misdemeanours even if unintentionally. Point 2: have these people never read Orwell's 1984? Point 3: do they really believe that it would be impossible for a future government to take absolute power and use this information to control anybody considered 'undesirable' irrespective of any crime committed? That is truly naïve.
Antony, Heathfield, UK

If someone is proven innocent of some alleged offence, all their details should be removed from each and every data base immediately. This is particularly true of accused teachers, many of whom are accused out of pure malice. Very often teachers are accused by pupils simply because the teacher is attempting to impose discipline on disruptive pupils. If so, the teacher is suspended immediately, subject to unnecessarily traumatic investigation by the police who are then quite willing to withhold evidence from the court in order to at least proceed to a trial, and finally that teacher's name is spread mercilessly over the newspapers. In ALL such circumstances, if ultimately found not guilty, such people should have their DNA and other records instantaneously removed from all police and other records. Also, in these cases, the police and CPS should be forced to utter public apologies which should be headlined in ALL the newspapers that have blackened the said teacher's name! Anything less simply isn't justice - certainly not what many have been brought up to believe is British justice!
Dr. J. Dunning-Davies, FRAS.,

A universal database of everyone's DNA would inevitably undermine the great evidence that DNA matches currently provide. At the moment the police investigate a suspect and check his DNA; in the event of a match the chances of him not leaving the DNA at the scene because he is innocent is millions to one against. Once everyone's DNA is on the database the police would check the DNA at the scene to the database and come up with several matches. After a further bit of investigation the suspect would be charged and as such the DNA evidence is much less convincing - the suspect would initially be selected as being simply one of several people who have similar DNA's to that left at the scene. Most juries would understand that how you initially select the sample (the suspect) from the population has a big bearing on the evidence gained and it would inevitably lead to few convictions.
S Chad, Manchester

Here is my problem: if DNA records are ok for the law breakers in Britain then what about those law breakers trying to get into Britain from France, Belgium and Holland. Seems to me a swab could help to keep law breakers out. Oh I forgot, human rights. That's why innocent people in Britain get treated like second class citizens.
David , Coatbridge

Everyone's DNA should be kept on record. As society begins to disintegrate under it's many burdens it will become necessary to bring in more draconian methods of control. Identifying people through their DNA is an ideal way of achieving this. And as technology improves we will be able to tell more about someone from their DNA. This has huge advantages to multi national corporations in enabling them to improve their profiling of workers and consumers. It will also help the government in weeding out potential trouble causers before they o any harm.
Paul Browne, Belper

Keeping the DNA of innocent people is a disgrace. And yes, "innocent" means those people who may have done the crime but the court finds them not guilty. That's the way the system works, and we should actually be glad that it does. Of course it's unfortunate if they get off because of a bad search warrant, insufficient evidence etc but I'm glad that people can get a fair trial and that "innocent until proven guilty" is preserved. Those of you who say it's a good idea, please feel free to sign up. Just don't expect every other law-abiding citizen to follow. Some of us still value privacy and civil rights.
David, Newcastle

How do you confirm that a profile has been removed? What about back up databases? There are too many questions that have not been thought through. Seems like the Govt choose to ignore the European Court of Human Rights when it suits. Bet this will not be published due to the thought police. P.S. How long does it take to fix HYS? Answer: When the Home Secretary says so.
John Carter, Bristol

The issue relates to keeping DNA samples of innocent people - those found not guilty or never charged. If they haven't offended in the first place then how can they be deemed likely to re-offend in the future? You are either innocent or proven guilty - there is nothing in between that should require you to have your DNA stored by the authorities.
Carl, Lewes, East Sussex

When faced with ever increasing crime rates and civil disobedience it really beggars belief that we kowtow once again to the European Courts and take away the one reasonable and modern way we have to solve crimes. Crime is bound to increase and therefore it is essential that all DNA of everyone is held on file. That will keep the crime rate down. I am heartily sick of hearing about peoples' human rights when victims do not seem to have any rights at all. No doubt this will be scanned by our esteemed government and I will be put on some sort of list - bring it on!!!!
Rosemary Yoybg, Nairn Scotland

I think we need to take into account the entire criminal justice system. Sure, the database can help catch criminals, but they are given pathetic sentences or let off so they can reoffend. Start locking people up for good and the database may not be necessary.
David, Cornwall, UK

If it helps catch people, I fail to see what the issue is? It might even stop people doing the crime in the first place!
Jim, Verwood

DNA couldn't be more personal and private. It's mine and they're not getting it! Genewatch is right, and I can see no logic or justification for a blanket 6-year limit. I'm beginning to wonder if the Home Office is merely about thinking up pointless and expensive means of social control. Maybe the Home Office isn't fit for purpose, and should be abolished?
Cedders, London, UK

Let's separate the issues being debated here. A DNA database is a record of fact. My DNA profile is unique and unchanging; nobody can mimic it. Why can't the government record one fact about me indefinitely? Innocence and guilt is for the courts to decide based on all the evidence available. One fact does not equal guilt. Context has to be given to the facts to describe a case.
Alastair, Edinburgh

It has been shown that people who commit crime once are the group of people that are most likely to commit crimes a second and more times. There isn't that much benefit to holding innocent unconvicted people on the database. However, you have to look at all facets to the storing of data. The question of civil liberties is a very real concern. It is wrong for people we elect to ride roughshod over our views. Some people will claim that the DNA database helps the Police to solve crimes, yes, but at what cost to our liberties? The fact a handful of crimes each year are not solved by the DNA database (because innocent people are not on it) is no big deal, that's the way in the past it has always been, not all crimes are solved. The database proves to be most useful when convicted people are on it, and that should continue. But unconvicted people should not be on the database. We need to reverse the steps, the monitoring that the Labour government is implementing which is an assault on our civil liberties. I have never come across before a government so obsessed with trying to monitor, to control its very own citizens. It's truly frightening. Those of you that think you have done nothing wrong so you have nothing to hide, nothing to fear make these remarks out of ignorance. I have worked as a professional in IT for nearly 20 years and I know full well how information can be shared, how it can be used/misused. I know the safeguards the French have put in place which the UK government here dismisses, which it rejects outright. If you knew what I knew, you would be truly worried.
Kevin W, Ascot

I think every man, woman and child should be registered on this database, Gattaca-style. It would deter and solve a lot of crimes.
Dana Fisher, United Kingdom

We have a government who thinks that because they can do something, they will if they want to, regardless of the law. Whatever the merits and demerits of a DNA database, the Government have disobeyed the law just like they did over invading Iraq. Put them on trial, keep their DNA samples and see how they like it. They have betrayed the electorate who voted for them and seem to be engaged in self-destruction in all manner of policies.
David Pybus, Peterborough UK

If you have a suspect then take their DNA and see if it matches what was found at the crime. Isn't that what happened with finger prints? Why keep information about innocent people without their consent?
Finger Prince, London

Why would cold cases be stopped from being solved by removing innocent people from the database? The DNA taken would be considered NEW and then would provide a hit against DNA from the cold case. Remember DNA is taken for relatively minor offences and even if no charges are brought against you (because you ARE innocent) they are there indefinitely. The terms they are talking about are still too long. Remember all database are meant to have a purpose - where in the Data Protection register state the database is for use to hold the DNA of everyone in the UK who is spoken to the police about something. And for those who compare the database to ones with banks etc, we volunteer the information to them and it's use is governed - and they have to remove it when you are no longer a customer after a set period. If the government want a central DNA database of everyone then they should state that and everyone should be on it rather than as is, you are guilty of something if your on it - will those who share that view now feel the same when they have their DNA taken for being told off for a minor traffic offence maybe?
Andrew, Llanelli, UK

"Does it matter if big brother is watching? NO! not if you are being a model citizen. Dale Hicks, Gt Bentley, England"
It does if you are in China and you think the Dalai Lama should be allowed back in. Or have friends that say that Thailand are a separate country. What will our government in 10 years call illegal?
Mark, Exeter, UK

1. Could someone explain how having an entry on a database equates to being deemed to be guilty? 2. Has nobody thought of the crime prevention aspect of a DNA register? 3. Since a DNA profile is simply a series of numbers, does that make my Nat Insurance number an invasion of my privacy also? When a child is born in the UK the birth is registered and the first thing is a number is issued that stays with them for life, why not make that the DNA number sequence?
Barry P, Havant England

I think the problem is one of trust. Most people don't trust the government. In general people have more trust in their banks or credit card companies than the government. I think people are genuinely worried that the government will abuse the information and or loose the information. So rather than talking about how it'll reduce crime they should be explaining why they should be trusted.
Alan, Glasgow

Innocent people who have false accusations made against them have their DNA taken. Once charges are dropped/accused is found innocent, these should be removed immediately!
Tim, Bristol

So the difference in terms between how long before they delete it means there is a difference between being not guilty of a minor offence to a serious offence? But surely if you're not guilty, then you're not guilty?
Mike Hawk, Gotham City

For all those "people" out there that don't understand, how the database could be used. Or the idea of function creep. Your opinions are useless and pointless. These are the type of people which will vote labour time after time, scary .
Guy, Sheffield

Doesn't this strike anyone else as a complete waste of time, money and resources? If people are innocent, they have nothing to worry about unless they intend on committing a crime in the future. Holding records on a database can be nothing but a good thing in my mind - it can prove people innocent as much as it can prove them guilty. Seems to me people kick up an awful lot of fuss about information being held and how it infringes their rights, but it is rather a detached viewpoint… I wonder how they would see it if someone close to them had been injured, raped or murdered and the perpetrator couldn't be found because their DNA wasn't on file anywhere.
Helen, Worcestershire

I see there are a lot of people on here that seem to think having your DNA on a database is just fine, even if you are innocent. You may have committed a crime in the past or you may commit a crime in the future. And the police never arrest the innocent? What happened to Mr de Menezes or the Birmingham 6 the Guildford 4 and countless others wrongfully convicted? And I have to say in the last two I mentioned, clearly without DNA evidence. How many times is evidence lost or stolen, or government data left on a train. Think about this, a policeman with the DNA database is on a train, leaves a memory key behind as a mistake, it has the DNA database on it, just like the missing child benefit database that was lost, a criminal finds it and figures out what he's got and starts selling it to other criminals who then have access to your DNA, your address...All they need is a few hairs from a brush or a cigarette butt. Of course they may have to burgle you to get it but they are criminals so that's no problem. Then they leave your DNA at a crime scene, now you're in the frame. How do you prove it's not your DNA, after all you were arrested for a recordable offence but were innocent weren't you?!
Terry Donovan, London

If you don't know the names, try looking up Ronald Castree, Mark Dixie, Steven Gerald James Wright and there are many more living in our midst. All of these sick killers could be walking around right now if the DNA database was regularly cleared to keep "innocent" people happy. People should stop thinking about themselves and the prospect of getting caught out at some time in their lives and help to solve serious crimes people have got away with for years.
Anon, Bedfordshire, UK

DNA within itself breaches human rights. Study composer copyright laws its the same thing. The owner is the owner simple as...and therefore should be up to him or her for it to be used.for what ever reason. No one owns people.
Tolllerance, Durham

Thank God a little sense from a idiotic government party at last, this is a small step closer but we're not there yet, DNA shouldn't be taken unless your proved guilty and go to jail. Innocent or minor offence shouldn't be on this database. We can always rely on human rights to put these idiots in government back in their place.
Guy, Sheffield

Does it matter if big brother is watching? NO! not if you are being a model citizen. Dale Hicks.
It matters when they suddenly change the goalposts as to what being a model citizen entails or when an error in the system does it for them. When they came for the communists I wasn't a communist so I stayed schtum...
Graham Hoyle, Huddersfield, England

If DNA and the systems used were infallible I would have no objection. As neither is the case it should be curtailed as quickly as possible.
John McIntyre, Liverpool, England

"Does it matter if big brother is watching? NO! not if you are being a model citizen"
Of course it matters. First off, because like so many other of these measures, it makes deciding what constitutes a future model citizen (regardless of opposition) that much easier. Put all the machinery necessary for a police state into place then don't be surprised if you end up with one. Secondly because it panders to bad and lazy policing. A system that turns the job into little more than punching data into a computer and relying on the results. A useless dim-witted reactive police force unable to prevent crime and unable to catch those who don't leave a DNA sample behind. Thirdly and finally its yet another nail in the coffin of personal privacy versus the States right to know and control everything it pleases often for little more than its own convenience. We've fought wars (and Eastern Europe has had revolutions) over less.
Stevie, Paisley

If a person is innocent, then the government have no right to maintain these profiles. DNA, internet activities, ID cards... are we allowed any privacy any more? I'm moving to Germany. At least they already went through this sort of thing and got it out of the way.
Evis T, Menai Bridge, Ynys Mon, Wales

It seems to me that a DNA database can be and is used to help solve crime. I have no concerns about it since I have not committed, and have no intention of committing, a crime. I'm very happy if a DNA database helps the police solve crime and stop the criminal committing more crime until (or unless) s/he is caught. On these grounds I'd be happy for my DNA to be held in a database until I die.
Jonathan, Bishop's Stortford UK

To my mind, the problem lies with equating this database with criminality. If everyone's DNA was held on it from birth it would be a fabulous crime solving resource. I would be happy with my DNA profile being stored in it. It not only helps convict the guilty but also clears the innocent.
Tim, UK

I think anybody who understands what this means will agree with me, of cause the DNA database should be trimmed, but its to late for these people now, there DNA is already on the database, and no matter what anyone tells you will be on the database for ever, you don't actually think they will delete these records even if they say they are doing so ?
Guy, Sheffield

I do hope they keep all DNA data on New Labour party slush fund donors. They seem o et their names wrong when they cough up more than 5 grand at a time. One swipe of the DNA card should help the poor souls to get their names right.
Son of Big Brother, Orwellham

Benjamin Franklin stated it as, "it is better [one hundred] guilty Persons should escape than that one innocent Person should suffer". But more authoritarian personalities are supposed to have taken the opposite view; Bismarck is believed to have stated that "it is better that ten innocent men suffer than one guilty man escape;" and Pol Pot has made similar remarks.
Togo Bevan, Wales

Print Sponsor

Your E-mail address
Town & Country
Phone number (optional):

The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific