Page last updated at 21:46 GMT, Thursday, 7 May 2009 22:46 UK

Should the DNA database be trimmed?

DNA strand graphic
There are currently 4.5m DNA profiles stored on the national database.

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?

There are currently 4.5m DNA profiles stored on the national database. The new rules mean those arrested, but later released or acquitted, will have their profiles wiped after between six and 12 years.

Officials warned the changes could reduce the number of crimes solved.

But opposition parties accused the government of "giving as little as possible" in response to the judgement and the charity Genewatch has said samples taken from innocent people should not be kept at all.

This debate is now closed. You can read a selection of your comments below.


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Your most recent comments:

I have nothing to hide. Which is why I see no need to prove to others in any flamboyant way that I have nothing to hide. I disagree with the holding of information for the sake of holding that information, and the DNA database is no exception. It should not include innocent people and this is a slap in the face of freedom. If Brown had more backbone, and a moustache, he might begin to look like Stalin
Iain, Stirling, UK

So is the government partly abiding by the EU's decision. What can the EU do if the government continues to resist and what is the point of an EU law if the country involved can ignore it. If the police asked for my DNA I would refuse and under no circumstances would give them this private information. No amount of coercion will change my mind. If everyone did this, problem solved. The police state in this country must not be allowed peoples DNA.
Mike Smith, NORWICH

There are no guiltyish people. Not guilty or not charged means innocent. DNA should be kept for a maximum of 5 years after prison release. If the crime does not rate a prison sentence then it should be destroyed and if the accused is innocent then it should be destroyed. We can't have this police state mentality whereby we keep the DNA of the innocent because they "probably did it and got off", what the hell are we coming too? We are being led like sheep to the slaughter, when will the world start to learn from history? Anyone fancy an ID tattoo on the forearm, it worked for Hitler!
Jon Sanderson, Retford

The DNA database is just another piece of information about the individual. It is no more intrusive than the credit card or passport or CCTV All of which can be abused. It could be used for all manner of positive applications now and especially in the future. It should not be removed. If you must have privacy then step off this planet because everything you do is monitored but only a few really care or even think about it. Most people are law abiding and indifferent.
DM, Warrington Cheshire

To all those that say DNA profiling is nothing to fear, what will they say when one day you get a letter from the Ministry of health saying "we have noticed form your DNA profile that you are carrying a hereditary disease, we are therefore increasing your national insurance contributions to cover the additional expense your care will entail" Nothing to fear, I think a lot to fear.
A frightened person, Salisbury

I would be happy to have my DNA stay on record in return for the knowledge that good DNA records meant vastly improved chances of catching and stopping the nastier criminals. Keeping the data isn't the worry, it's how it's used that is important.
Mrs M Ball, Essex, UK

It raises the question are you being arrested for this most minor offence just for your DNA, then sent home with no charge and no warning. As in most things the government have gone against the spirit of the EU court ruling.
Keith Newbury, London

Innocent people who have their DNA registered on the national data base have nothing to fear as long as they remain innocent of future crime. There is a case for every child born to have its DNA registered for future identification needs.
Michael Dunsmore, Harrogate, North Yorkshire

DNA profiling is not something that is dangerous to anyone unless you're guilty. Gel electrophoresis, the process used to sequence DNA, is increasingly a more reliable process, and was fairly accurate to begin with. In 20 years' time, when the sequencing of an individual's entire genome will hopefully be possible for maybe a tenner and take a few minutes at most, then I fully expect it to be mandatory for everyone to submit DNA samples. There is nothing the government can do with your DNA, nothing at all. They can't engineer a specifically targeted bioweapon, they can't manipulate it into some kind of clone, it is physically impossible to do anything with the data. Remember, they aren't actually storing your cells here, without expensive hermetically-sealed chambers they will simply decay within days of a swab, they're just storing the sequencing results. It's just a combination of nucleoid bases, nothing personal or sinister. So many people here who simply don't understand what DNA is, and just what the current database has done for the law in this country. Using DNA in crime and punishment is a very, very useful thing, and a national database would undoubtedly permit cases to be narrowed down to a few people nationwide with a DNA sample. I fully support the sequencing of everyone in the UK - you really do have nothing to be scared of here. Just a bunch of anti-everything Tories having a jab at the "surveillance society" again.
Hugh Morley, Ashford

I would not trust this government (or any other) or its organs to protect my rights if they thought I was wrong and they are right. I think this government and other previous administrations under the guise of the "national good" have taken far too much power and control in the centre. I have never been in trouble with the law and I would have no issue with my DNA being held on a database but I do not trust the people in possession of this data not to abuse this info now or in the future. DNA data may allow the police to catch criminal now but who is to say what it could be used for in the future. It could be used to subset element of the population based on genetic traits and we know the consequences of doing that. For me it is a matter of trust and history is on my side.
Simon Green, London

I have committed no crime therefore my DNA doesn't need to be on a database. I have nothing to hide, but that doesn't mean I have no right to privacy. The court made the position absolutely clear - this is simply an attempt by a control freak to ignore it.
Mark, Plymouth, UK

Most of the cold case results attributed to DNA would have been solved at the time if the police had their wits about them. In many cases the police had interviewed the guilty party as a suspect and let them go. The keeping of innocent people's DNA is a statement that the government regards us all as suspects. I don't trust them much either. In fact I think the time is getting pretty close when people will destroy the DNA banks themselves, and New Labour with them. High taxes, no bread on the table, looming generations of crippling debt, a pocket-money society without pocket money, no NHS, no education, flooded with immigrants, Britain has become an open nick anyway with every move monitored, what the hell have they got to lose?
Chris Pannell, Orlando USA

Big Brother is a HUGE price to pay for added security - that's why the book was written in the first place! Do any of you commentators think that you're wiser than George Orwell? Why? Look at the G20 protests - innocents were targeted by the police, basically. Once you give them/the state more power, it isn't given back without a revolution! Which would you prefer if it came down to it - curbs on state power, a life in mental chains or being forced into revolution when the government gets too repressive? Britishness is defined by NOT bowing to dictatorship, and that includes internal dictatorship as well as Hitler-types. So, are we British or not?!
Ben, London, England, UK

There should be a time limit of say 5 years after which the DNA of those convicted of a criminal offence should be removed. Everyone deserves the right to a fresh start after having completed their sentence. It goes without saying that the DNA of those who are innocent should be removed immediately.
Peter, Nottingham, England

Even though the government have been told to delete the DNA of innocent people who have been arrested, they claim it will take twelve years to do so. ' Arrested 'does not mean charged. We have a police force we do not trust who would love to DNA test every person attending a protest no matter how innocuous the subject, because universally that is what policemen are like. Among the white sectors of working and middle class, is the rise in support for the right wing British National Party. In twelve years who knows where we will be. DNA evidence may be used for deportation of non-blondes.
Brian Brown, Caernarfon, North Wales

I'm all for a nationwide DNA database, that way everyone is equally treated. Imagine how many crimes could be solved in days by simply pulling down the walls of information asymmetry.
Griffith Jones, Carmarthenshire

If your mother is murdered and the DNA left at the scene scored a match on the database from somebody who, a few years earlier had been arrested for threatening behaviour but 'let off', you would be pleased the Government had kept all the DNA profiles. I think we should take mouth swabs of babies when they are born so everybody in the future is recorded. How many crimes would this solve? Or even prevent. Rapists etc may think twice if they knew their DNA was already recorded and would catch them straight away.
D'Vils Advocate, Norwich

People should have the right to choose. However if the decisions are based on concerns over DNA being planted at a scene or wrongfully interpreted there's no need for such concerns. A conviction cannot be made based on DNA evidence alone.
LJ, Oxon

So anyone who disagrees with the government over its position on personal information on the DNA database is "against justice", according to Harriet Harman, Leader of the House of Commons. Shame on my now former party for stooping so low with such an accusation as it heads steadily forward with totalitarian principles that the KGB would have applauded. Let us forgive those who argue that everyone's details should be on the database because those who oppose it must have something to hide; you're right; I do have something to hide: my privacy. The government does not own my body, my mind or any information about either. I believe that all of us should be off that database unless convicted in a court of law in front of a jury of our peers. Those freedoms are what our ancestors fought for against an oppressive state, whether it was abroad or our own. In twelve years the government has dismantled many of them, all as part of its terror and crime policies. Do I feel any safer as a consequence? Not a bit.
Alan Lowe, Stone, England

The problem with DNA unlike fingerprints, is that DNA can be spread around. Example: You hand a coin to a shop assistant. The shop assistant commits a crime. Your DNA and that of the shop assistant will be at the crime scene. You are now both suspect. Whereas with fingerprints, only the shop assistant's prints will be at the crime scene.
Mike, Wolverhampton, United Kingdom

The DNA database has solved more crimes than any recent science, the only people who fear it are criminals!! Geoff, Lyndhurst UK
NO IT HASN'T. DNA profiling is a flawed science. For the love of freedom Mods please at least print one of my posts today, considering they have all been polite and on topic i can not fathom why you keep rejecting them
Dazz, Worthing

Why do some people continue to argue that "only those with something to hide have reason to be worried about having their DNA on a database"? Does that mean that for everyone who is honest we should sacrifice our privacy and let everyone have access to it since we have "nothing to hide"? Also, with the record of data security within government departments this information may go to the wrong people, especially if it were to be sold off to insurance companies who would use the DNA to give a statistical prediction of how safe we are genetically in order to boost premiums but I doubt if they would lower premiums if we were statistically proven to be safer. I have nothing to hide but respect my privacy as well as others and don't trust this incompetent butter-fingered government with my personal data. It is bad enough letting them have the basics but more scientific data could be put to wrong use. I am worried that this has the potential to be put to wrong use, so does this mean I have something to hide?
John, Preston, Lancashire

One of the issues is if you are innocent and your DNA has been taken and stored on the database, how will this be interpreted in the "minds of others?" Will the fact that you DNA exists on the database be revealed on a CRB check? You might be innocent but how will this effect your future job prospects? Is it right that prospective employers will know you have been arrested, albeit wrongfully, and how will they use this information? If you are guilty of a crime, yes your DNA should be stored. If there is strong evidence to suggest you may have committed a serious criminal act then apply to a judge for an order to hold the DNA sample for a period of time, say 3 to 6 years. If there is a further investigation within that period for a similar or additional serious crime then apply for an extension. Innocent is innocent, not half measures.
Anon, Dorset

We are currently seeing a spate of 'Cold Cases' being solved by the happenstance of the criminals DNA being collected for a separate enquiry or incident. How much quicker would crimes have been resolved and how many crimes would have been prevented if we had a national compulsory DNA database.
John McL, Glasgow

It's not about having nothing to hide. By extending that argument why not put a CCTV camera in your front room? Nothing to hide so no problem. It is an unsustainable argument. This government has lost data repeatedly. This is highly personal data. I have worked as a solicitor for years in the criminal courts and "having nothing to hide" means nothing when the police are manipulating, distorting, hiding evidence.
Gordon, Ayr Scotland

Is DNA profile the same or different from DNA sequence? I would not mind knowing my DNA sequence - maybe in years to come technology would allow a recreation of me just from the DNA sequence. No memory of course and a new me. But a new me none the less.
Keith Sloan, Nr Winchester

I think people need to understand how the Home Office consider people on the database before forming an opinion on this. Vernon Coaker told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that"research showed half of those who reoffend after arrest do so within six years, and two-thirds within 12." May I inform Mr Coaker that being arrested is NOT an offence. (Good grief)
Robbo, Suffolk

We have the crazy situation where a person has the right to silence, they don't have to incriminate themselves, however they have to give DNA, which may do the same thing. If someone volunteers to give a DNA sample to assist with an investigation it should be used for that investigation. Not kept and used for fishing trips into the unsolved crimes. If convicted perhaps the DNA should be kept on file, if not it should be destroyed.
Mick, York, UK

Why are so many people concerned about information? After all, this database is there for our benefit and our protection. The principle of innocent until proven guilty is fine, but what about all those cases that fit into the category of probably but not proven, for example. There is nothing wrong with the principle of storing data on suspicious people, or anyone else for that matter. This is how crimes are solved and this is what sometimes allows the police to remove the most dangerous members of society from our midst.
Peter, Leeds

Absolutely we need this data base to ensure serious criminals, terrorists, extremist capitalists and free marketeer think tanks, profiteers and other City scams that defraud and cause cause misery are easily identified and criminal prosecutions brought upon them for the suffering the bring to innocent individuals. Lets have surveillance in the City and finance boardrooms so we can identify the policy that is robbing the people and evading tax.
Dave Cosgrove, Edinburgh, Scotland

It's amazing how the Govt only has to say "jump" and many ordinary people say "how high" without thinking as to why they should to begin with.
Heather Burns

As a biologist I have absolutely no idea what the problem is with keeping DNA on a database. Its a useful crime solving tool, just like a fingerprint. It can rule people out of investigations or point the finger at someone who otherwise wouldn't be considered. And it would be ridiculous to think that DNA connections override common sense and traditional police methods. And as for human rights, the government already has names, addresses and date of births. What's the problem? Nobody has the right to be anonymous and untraceable. And I wouldn't want to live in a country where they did. So please, come take my DNA, take my fingerprints. I'll thank you for it.
Andrew, Manchester

To all those saying only the innocent have anything to hide. How about your DNA being discovered at a crime scene, something as simple hair cut from a barbers shop, thrown in the bin and taken by someone intent on a crime and using hair to plant DNA evidence. Feel comfortable being taken into questioning for that? Simple questioning can have a profound effect on people lives, especially relationships. How long before detective work gets lazy because a huge DNA database makes it easy to round up suspects regardless of whether they were seen? Or worse the police get privatised to security companies. You think ID theft is a potential problem now, you leave DNA everywhere and there's no way to control it.
Will, Helston

I have done genetics at university and struggle to see how anyone could use my DNA to control me or make any difference to my daily life. If holding the DNA of the population was to deter one violent crime, or catch a rapist then I can't see an issue. I know conspiracies will do the rounds but this isn't science fiction.. We want to catch criminals, holding DNA will help to do that.
Steve Webb, Tamworth, England

There are arguments on both sides but we should never lose sight of the basic rule of law in the British justice system "you are presumed innocent until you are proven guilty". The other thing is that most people do not want to work any more. If they can get robots to do the job they will which is why the DNA database suits the police and the crime dept because they don't want to think and reason as well as carry out a proper job investigating crime. How many times have we heard of the shoddy nature of how an investigation of a crime was conducted that left the criminal free and out there. If everyone took care and did their job properly and thoroughly we will not have issues and let the DNA of criminals/those convicted remain on the database. No one will raise any eyebrows about that.
Marian Nielsen, LA, USA

The problem with a DNA database is that is it first step towards a Class System based on genetics. We might think this is all about security but in the future will they not start profiling potential criminals on the basis of genetic traits. That is why a DNA must not be implemented here in the UK, science is still so far from understanding DNA enough to suspect anyone about anything.
Mart, WGC, UK

An innocent persons DNA should NOT be stored by anyone. What right has anyone, including the police, have to keep any of my details without my permission if I am innocent of any crime? The information MAY help reduce crime but, more likely, it will be used for more sinister purposes in the future.
Paul Robinson, Largs ,Scotland

I suggest that every person that has no problem keeping all records, as the innocent have nothing to fear, all go to your local police station and volunteer your fingerprints, DNA sample and all the other personal information required if you happen to be wrongly arrested. Let's not forget that this law, along with many other that curb our civil liberties were only able to be brought in under anti terror legislation due to the perceived terrorist threat and then used en-masse. Scare the population and they will willingly give up their rights as a scared population is much easier to control.
please state, UK

It's illegal to source DNA in that way and keep for 12 years even when the person is innocent. This idea of sourcing of DNA is itself criminal and the promoters should be summoned and their DNA taken for witch hunting innocent people!
wod, London

The unoriginal and fatuous comment 'only the guilty have anything to fear' grossly understates the issue here. It is an outrageous intrusion on privacy and civil liberties to keep this information. Don't forget this is not only about criminal activity; it could lead to the divulging of all sorts of personal information such as hereditary disorders, ethnicity etc. Where DNA samples are taken by the police they should be destroyed immediately if the person is acquitted or charges dropped.
Penny, Exeter

I've noticed that both this debate and the ID Card one that took place the other day have both followed a similar pattern: first, a barrage of Pro-Labour stuff spouting 'nothing to hide, nothing to fear', all in one batch. This is then followed by those who have decided not to quote Goebbels, and who justifiably have concerns about liberty and the intrusion of the state into our lives. Does this strike anyone else as odd? And does it also strike anyone else as rather worrying that our once-cherished 'presumption of innocence' seems to have been abandoned here?
DS, Norwich, UK

"If you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to fear"
The trouble is you don't know you have done wrong, until the government of the day tells you that you have. Had there been a Europe wide DNA database between the wars think what uses the Nazis would have made of this. People might have contributed to it not realizing they were "guilty" of being Jewish for instance.
Wilson, Scotland

My brother-in-law was accused of burglary because his DNA was found in a flat - one that he'd visited over a year previously, when the then tenants were friends of his. It cost him £2K in legal fees to clear his name. Yet some people say there is nothing to fear? Wake up!
Annia, UK

I don't understand this hypersensitive mentality held by some people that by somehow having ones DNA on a government database is a breach of human rights. People speak as if by being 'innocent' someone is therefore unable to commit a crime in the future when, needless to say, every criminal was once an innocent person. Despite the risks of false convictions being made from this proposed plan, it is clear that these mistakes are already being made and in fact if this system was in place then more guilty criminals would probably be convicted which would counterbalance the minority of false convictions to a favourable equilibrium.
Owen Walton, Sutton

I'm really worried, I am innocent of the assassination of John F Kennedy does this mean they will come knocking for a sample of my DNA... how do I prove that the crimes I haven't done are of the less serious variety? I mean I am innocent of mugging and car theft too, will they take these previous non-offences into consideration? Or will the fact I have not committed genocide and ethnic cleansing trump these lesser non-crimes? I wonder do all the crimes I haven't done add up and mean they can hold my sample ad infinitum? I'm confused... perhaps I should stand for Parliament?
Mark Berry, Telford, England

"Anything that we do that takes away the possibilities of finding out who the guilty are is very detrimental" says Jill Saward.
That's the same as saying "put everyone in prison then there would be no crimes" - let just one out and it would be detrimental to the cause
Graham Shaw, Taunton

"As long as the DNA database is in good hands, Jonathan, Romford, Essex"
Well, yeah. That's the problem.
Mark, Exeter, UK

Can someone who says "we have nothing to fear if we're innocent" explain how they can see into the future and see that this data could never be abused or misused?
Ben, Oxford England

They have already been ordered by a European court to delete records of unconvicted people but of course they consider themselves above the law. They believe the law is to control the ruled not something for them to obey.
Keith, Welshpool,UK

Yes in principle! However surely people who have served whatever punishment issued by the courts should also have DNA details removed. If however the Police/Home Office feel that it's in the nation best interest to retain a person's DNA then application to do so should be made to the courts.
Steve G, Gateshead

Is my "privacy" worth more than the possibility of releasing an INNOCENT man from a legal but wrong conviction and imprisonment? Is yours? Perhaps Liberty would like to answer this precise question.
Ron Brook, Rotherham, UK

"They cannot clone you with this data, nor can they determine any diseases you may get in the future. Nicola Harris, Newcastle upon Tyne"
This also means that instead of being a one-in-a-billion chance of matching, there's a one-in-a-thousand chance. Either there's detail enough to make you or there's not enough detail to exclude you reliably.
Mark, Exeter, UK

My DNA, Finger prints etc, my information, unless I have broken the law the government has no right to hold it. Simple, clear. ALL innocent entry's should be deleted with immediate effect. Criminals re-offend not innocent people.
Christopher Davies, Wiltshire

Is there any surprise why this government is doing this? Its because theres no one to stop them, we have tolerated far too much from this government and still no one speaks out, all we do is stand there with our mouths open while the government cuts this country up a little finer, write to MP's, protest, do anything to inconvenience them, they cant arrest us all, even if they are armed with our DNA.
DS, Newcastle

This whole ridiculous argument continues to rage yet I still haven't heard how storing DNA data is any different to storing say your drivers license photo or your fingerprints at the border? Really I'm all ears because simply saying "privacy privacy waaa" doesn't fly with me at all.
Dean

My 12 yr old boy accidentally broke a window with his football but didn't tell anyone. The Police insisted on interviewing him re. criminal damage but couldn't do so until he had been arrested, fingerprinted and mouth-swabbed. We then had to wait an anxious 48 hrs to be told no charges were to be brought against him. His DNA profile remains on the system. The fact that the boy's mum had been buried 6 days before his arrest didn't stand in the way of 'justice'.
M Stein, Essex

If you're innocent your details should be off the database. Funding should be increased to the police to allow them to actually do their jobs, not rely on forensics to tell them who did it! Those of you saying "nothing to hide nothing to fear" and that it "should be extended to cover the whole population" Why don't you wander down to your local police station and ask to be put on the database. No? Got something to hide then?
Edd, Crewe, England

While foreign nationals enter the country at will, and preachers of hate are supported by the state, and rapists and muggers sue the government under human rights laws, the DNA database serves to protect nobody. Only the innocent are at risk.
David, Redruth

A DNA profile should be taken off any person born, living or entering this country. The only people who can be against it are those who want to hide or wish to commit a criminal act. As well as being a tremendous help in finding the guilty, it would also easily prove the innocent. Anyone refusing, obviously have something to hide. I would be glad to have my DNA stored on a database and know that I could not be accused of something I did not do, which must be worse than being guilty.
Chris Seymour, Colchester

Those who support the retention of DNA samples/records from those who were acquitted or never charged rely on arguments like "just because there isn't enough evidence to convict someone doesn't actually make them innocent." Do these people realise just how dangerous this argument is? Next step would be "the police think they are guilty so lets lock them up". Next step Nazi Germany or Stalin's Soviet Union...
David, Harpenden

The paranoia of some people here is ludicrous. They would sell their soul to the government if they thought it would "solve a crime". If you're not convicted then your DNA should be removed. Pure and simple. All you "model citizens" who so smugly spout Blair's mantra of "nothing to hide" simply haven't got the brains to understand the long-term implications of being on such a database. You seem to think that because someone's sample has been taken, that there must be "some" degree of criminality about the individual, therefore in your eyes they become "dodgy" and should be eyed with suspicion. How awful! I agree entirely with Andrew Barker (Lanwrda) about the mischief and havoc this system has the ability to cause, in the wrong hands.
CD, southwest Bristol

If you have nothing to hide what's the issue. Had it not been for the database they may have never caught the guy that murdered all the prostitutes in Ipswich 2 years ago. I think it's a good thing and should be compulsory to everyone.
Tim Lloyd, Reading

It saddens me to think of such a database. It is like watching the real-life version of "V for Vendetta". Moreover, I hate the fact that this is being done in the name of "safety". Creating fear just to push through more legislation. What next? Microchipping so that we can be tracked by GPS?
Joe, St Andrews,

The biggest worry I have is that DNA data as recorded by the DNA database is not unique, there are hundreds of people in this country that would match my DNA "profile", if one of them commits a crime and my details are on the database, I'll be looking at having to prove I didn't do it.
Ian Rawlings, Dorset

"Innocent" people don't get arrested for serious crimes. These people are not innocent and will commit further offences. Mike, Coventry.
Mike, basic facts prove you wrong. Have you read ANYTHING about the myriad miscarriages of justice cases? Never mind that a lot of people go to court for crimes and are found not guilty because ... THEY'RE INNOCENT. Sheesh, what's wrong with education in this country where people just want to throw away their rights without even thinking about it. Just go and get a number tattooed on your arm please! Papieren Bitte!
JeeBee, London

No nothing to hide, why worry?
Malcolm Gibb, Falkirk-UK

So many (correct IMO) comments here against the DNA database, but yesterday support seemed to be overwhelmingly in favour of ID cards...these things are two sides of the same coin. Oppose both!
Ross, Reigate

If people don't have anything to hide then there details being on file shouldn't ever affect them... I appreciate that if someone has been wrongly accused of a crime then they wouldn't feel happy about their DNA being kept, but too get rid of possibly vital DNA sample's of Rapist's & Murderer's, after 12 years is absolutely ridiculous!!! We will be shooting ourselves in the foot when in 12 years' time those same criminals commit again and get away with it because of some silly petition about privacy!!! Think of the greater good! Also, you know that it will be the same people that are moaning now will drastically change their tune when the crime rate increases in 2021.
David Morgan, Swansea, Wales

A fairer system would be to only take DNA before conviction if it is relevant to the case, such as to match DNA evidence found at the crime scene. Destroy it if it doesn't match. Once convicted, then take DNA and keep it on record for the 6-12 years after release.
Xaccers, Milton Keynes

People who say "if you've got nothing to hide then you've got nothing to fear" should read up on history and understand why it's important that authorities do not have total control over their citizens. For example, just imagine how easy ethnic cleansing would be with a national DNA database.
Phil, Lancashire

I have less of an issue with a DNA database than I do with ID cards. But it's got to be all or nothing. This idea of the police randomly keeping you on record is far too haphazard, not properly legislated and too open to abuse.
Tony

A plethora of answers around "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear". As was said in a previous Have Your Say - do all of you have curtains on your windows? If so, then you value your privacy after all.
Veronica, Henley on Thames

Britain is becoming a police state. Imagine what Hitler or Stalin could have done with this information.
Brian Sherry, Basildon, Essex

This is a difficult one. We all want the guilty caught and punished, particularly for serious crimes. But then again, can we trust the government on civil liberties and not to abuse this database? Overall, I want it, but only with strict safeguards in place, which I do not believe governments can meet. So, on balance, I would say not. Too much big brother stuff already. Responsibly used, I would want it in an ideal world.
Phil Cox, Watford

Authenticating a crime based on a DNA sample of a victim sounds great but under the scanner of it are the thousands of innocents who have to go through the ground. DNA database for innocents should be removed and there should be thin line of difference between a person perpetrating a crime and a person who does not even dream of such an act in reality.
Vishu, Woodgreen, London

My house was broken into some years ago while I was in it. Thankfully, the burglar ran the minute he saw someone was in, scared the life out of me though and it still affects me today. But guess what, he was wearing gloves, so no finger prints and no DNA. What use would this database have had for me then?
Debbie, Belfast

Even if the government claims to get rid of records after 12 years do you really think GCHQ will delete the files? Ha ha.
jjs, Dundee

Shouldn't DNA be treated in the same way that fingerprints are? What do they do with fingerprints? Doesn't much difference to me!
Andy, Camberley

Can't see what the fuss is about. If it helps cut crime, they should have a database with everybody's DNA. Only guilty people have something to hide.
Paul, Altrincham

The United Kingdom is no longer a free country. Dave, Portsmouth
Are you serious? we have the right to have this debate, we have the right to peacefully protest if we're not happy with a decision. we also have free healthcare, a comprehensive free education system for all under-18s and whatever you think of the police or the crime rate, we do have a much more transparent and accessible system of justice than many countries in this world... people need to stop this 'woe is me' rubbish and be grateful for the freedoms and privileges we experience every day. there are issues with our country but at least we have the freedom and ability to speak out and make change.
Vikki Reeves, Belfast

Where's the harm? how can it be a violation of privacy? Dale Hicks, Gt Bentley, England
Wait until we are all on the Database and you get refused life insurance as you don't fit the insurance companies criteria because the government have allowed preferred companies access to your data
Kevin Ball, Plymouth, England (not UK)

I was arrested for assault. The police knew it was a pack of lies but had no choice but to arrest me. I was swiftly released with no charge. I have no problem with my DNA being kept on a database. What I object to is my arrest for assault being kept on record. If another deranged person claims I attacked them, then my benefit of the doubt has been taken away. Mind you, if that does happen, the knowledge that my DNA is on the database may deter me from murdering them...
Debbie, Kent

The argument that "if I've done nothing wrong, I've nothing to fear" is misguided. If my child has a (an otherwise benign) genetic abnormality that is someday identifiable and deemed by a politician to be a 'flaw,' it could prevent him from getting a job or worse. Taken to an extreme, this is how Eugenics finds a foot-hold. The Jews in 1940s Germany were innocent, but it did not stop that government. Leave politics out of science.
Craig , USA

All those advocating taking everyone's DNA should question first the security of the database - and cloning of information. I for one do not want my information stored by any government agency as in recent years they have all proved incompetent. Even those tasked with looking after national security do not possess adequate security sense not to store information improperly. Other databases have been stored on foreign soil.
Rick, Wirral

There's a lot of comments here about data being held securely. When has the government been able to hold any information securely? Never. There's also a point no-one else seems to have covered properly - use of the DNA database results in other lines of investigation being ignored as it's assumed it can't be wrong. This is a fallacy and may actually lead to more people being wrongly convicted as the police have relied too heavily on information which later turns out to be wrong.
James, Oxford, UK

Surely if a match was found in the database then that person would be re- tested anyway? Still a scary thought though. I can't see any possible reason for keeping innocent peoples DNA.
mw

DNA evidence, unlike fingerprint evidence, is mobile. If there is a DNA database then innocent people can be set-up for crimes. If I know you are on the DNA database and I then steal your DNA, e.g. take hairs from a hairbrush you have used, I could then leave those hairs at the scene of the crime. It would be very difficult for you to defend against that. In time crooks could 'sell' DNA to be left at crime scenes. Every person on the DNA database would then have to protect their DNA. This is very hard to do as DNA is available in many forms, such as on a handkerchief, or dead cells on a bed we have slept in, or the saliva on a cigarette butt etc. As an Ethical Hacker and a Digital Hacking Forensics Investigator I fully understand the fundamental weaknesses and security flaws in such a database. The collection of the DNA data will also be converted into a digital format. A hacker can then access the database and change the owner of the DNA profile, which again can make investigations and evidence flawed, leading to unsafe convictions.
Neil O'Neil, Sutton, Surrey

The real problem is Labour's conviction that computers and science will always work. They don't. A database is only as secure as the people accessing it. Thus Contact Point, with an estimated 1.5 million civil servants having access, cannot be secure. It is impossible for anyone to guarantee that a percentage of those people will not be corrupt, just as those accessing the National Police databases have proved. The DNA database is vastly worse. The system of predictive DNA sampling, rejected by the US, all European states, and most of the rest of the world, is inaccurate. The Home Office says that there is a reasonable accuracy from it - but let's say there's a five percent inaccuracy. In our population, that means 3,000,000 people. The point people are missing is that DNA doesn't prove anything. It is a useful tool which, taken with other evidence, can add to the picture of someone's presence at a crime scene. It "proves" nothing. It may prove that you, or your wife, happened to bump into someone in the street and passed on your DNA to the actual perpetrator. If people are held on a national database, it will inevitably mean that police investigations will grow more sloppy and slipshod. They will grow to rely on DNA, and potentially ignore evidence that points elsewhere. The national DNA database is a blueprint for the highest number of mistrials ever seen in this country. It is stupid, facile, and typical of Labour's incompetence that they now seek to persuade us that this too is essential for our protection. As was locking up the innocent in Belmarsh without trial, without letting the victims of British justice see the evidence against them, or even know what they were accused of. This truly is a police state now.
Mike Jecks, Okehampton, Devon

Slippery! This government deserves that label. They defer to the European Courts when it suits them, then when instructed to remove innocent persons DNA from the Database the answer is yes - but not immediately, say 10 years. I bet we don't hear any more from the EU on that either.
Col, Bucks

Wealthy people can challenge this in court ordinary people can't, in the UK you get the justice you can afford.
Mike Knoth, Tunbridge Wells, England

I think that all the people who say, "If you have nothing to hide, you've got nothing to worry about." should have their DNA stored in perpetuity and the rest of us should be left in peace.
James, Central London

Here is another thing, CRB checks, you know, when you try and get a job like a Teacher, do you think it won't include a DNA database check ?. As they say 'No smoke without fire', innocent, yes but bang goes your career just the same. Bob Biryani, London
That is a superb point Bob... So am I right in thinking that even if you have been cleared of any wrong doing a CRB check will still show a prospective employer that you have been accused but cleared ... If yes then that is outrageous and will cause otherwise decent people to lose a job
Dazz, Worthing

As always if you have nothing to hide why should you worry. One of the only things in recent times that may help improve crime rates is taken away by those do-gooders in Europe
Gary, Manchester

Is there nobody else concerned that in the last 10 years that this country has turned into the one with the most CCTV coverage, the one were protest is restricted or protestors are arrested before they even protestor beaten up by riot police, you can be imprisoned without trial for weeks, tortured in proxy by MI6, required to carry identity cards (pending), have your emails and internet activity examined - Am I confused or is this really a free democracy?
Lord Wot Wot, Leedsville

Somebody should ask all the relatives of unsolved crimes out there what should be done - its my understanding that DNA testing has meant some of these poor families have had closure even years after the event - If you have nothing to hide then what's wrong in your DNA being on a database -
Julie Dudas, Barnsley

The Governments proposals are both an insult to the British Public and to the authority of the EU Court of Human Rights. The Government should be more concerned about safeguarding the fundamentals of the British Justice system than eroding them in the name of "Justice". no justice is worth that and that is something that Harriet Harman would do well to understand and remember.
Chris Chittock, York, UK

The UK is 2nd in the world league for total crimes committed, even though our population is far smaller than many other countries. The UK is ranked 3rd for percentage of population that has been a victim of crime (25.4%) which means we have over 15 million victims & growing each year. With over 6.5 million crimes committed each year in UK the detection rate is around 1.4 million which means 5.1 million crimes are committed by people not caught or caught & escape justice for a variety of reasons (UN figures). To suggest that everyone without criminal conviction is innocent is a ridiculous and non-true statement. Those of us who don't want our mothers, brothers/sisters, grandparents to become victims are entitled to demand DNA profiling of everyone. I am sick of biased ignorant selfish excuses which provides criminals and terrorists with a stupid and unique opportunity to forever create victims just because of idiotic paranoia & liberalist idealism.
Iain, Donc UK

My son who has never done anything wrong in his entire life was asked to help with 'police enquiries' they then demanded he take a DNA test. He was not charged with any crime but now they have his DNA on file for however long they are allowed, or even longer as we don't know if they will actually remove the information do we.
Pink lady, UK

Every person should be DNA tested. More forums - every person should have an ID card. Both should be on the basis that whichever Government is in power - we can trust them with those details on an a database. Last comment - we pay a ridiculous fee for the BBC - after 8 days do you not think you can finally get the HYS forum working properly?
tomliboo69, Cheshire

This is hardly in line with the recent ruling by the Euro high court. But then this is England where people are spied on by CCTV, their council and where a Stalinist government wants us to keep in line. Soon when we go to "vote" there will only one box to tick and a security/party official there to make sure we tick it. Hooray for freedom and liberty!
Salik, Blackburn

DNA profiles should be deleted as soon as a person has been acquitted or has otherwise been determined to be innocent.
Karen, London

Surely the way round this ruling by the European Court of Human Rights would be to create a mandatory database of all UK residents. This will help solve hundreds, possibly thousands of serious crimes, and also act as a deterrent to crime.
Jamie, Leicester

I think it is important to have some kind of these data, and it's for our security. The faster it's to catch a criminal the best its. Moreover, it could be one of us who is being victimised at sometime.
Ahmad, Edinburgh

Yes the DNA database should be managed better. Remove all stored DNA from innocent people i.e. those arrested & never charged as they didn't do anything! The cases they are clearing up using DNA are from known criminals not innocent people. This country stinks, it has become a police state. I don't need anyone to 'watch over me' what I eat, what I drink, where I go in my car. Time for change before there is a revolution!
D Avery, Bushey UK

First, I am only a student came to UK to study from abroad and i will turn back to my country as soon as I finish. I think this issue is not too hard to solve. My suggestion is that UK government can start taking DNA samples from everyone who live in UK permanently or constantly as a part of their ID file, and not on a criminal database, but on the main database. Also they should restudy minor crimes, and categorise them into two kinds. The first category is crime that leads to another in the future, or in cases that criminals can not get rid of their bad habits, which people around them and deal with them should be aware of. The other kind of people who have been misjudged by people in authority, and then they discover that they are innocent. The last category suffers from a stigma because they did not commit any crime; their only fault was their bad luck. It is obviously unfair.
Ranya, UK/Scotland

Only the guilty have anything to hide, the innocent have nothing to fear. Those in favour of the deletions would change their mind if a family member of theirs had been murdered and DNA would help to find the killer.
Sam Evans, Coventry

I was attacked by a teenager who also damaged my car. He alleged that I assaulted him when I tried to effect a citizens arrest. 2 weeks later I was asked to attend at a Police Station to put forward my side of the story - and was arrested when I did so voluntarily!! No charges were made against me and after nearly 40 years as a solicitor, including as a Police prosecutor, the Police have my DNA and photograph "to reduce crime" Let the Police interview Jacqui Smith about her expenses. Then we'll see a change of tune.
Solicitor, Milton Keynes

Trial by fire = anybody that won't go on a data base is as guilty as sin = next.
B Frank, Derby

A comprehensive DNA database would be invaluable. The true benefit would be in catching new offenders since existing criminals are already easily traced. Therefore the logging of 'innocent' people's DNA is essential to it's functioning. It does not stop people from doing anything in a direct way so does not impinge on their human rights or liberties. It merely enables the law to be enforced more efficiently which is good for everyone especially the innocent.
Guy Bolt, Plymouth

It wont be long when the police forces victims of burglaries to have their DNA taken and stored while the burglars get away scot free.
Simon, Liverpool

Should the DNA database be trimmed? No (and I am one of the innocents on it!) People arrested but not charged or convicted have DNA records on the database. The statistics show quite clearly that there is a higher probability of such people being convicted later for other crimes and so the retention of their records raises the correct arrest rate and saves money for us all. Wiping these records will therefore decrease accurate detection and thus improve criminals' chances of escape. That a few single issue campaigners seem not to understand these basic facts is a great pity.
Paul j. Weighell, Purley

Perhaps you should read Old Dog's comment. One day a DNA database might catch the person who attacks you or someone you know, then you might face up to reality. In the meantime, the type of paranoia that shouts down attempts to catch the guilty suggest to me that you are guilty of something yourself! Teena, England
So if I disagree with you and the govt Teena then I MUST be guilty of something. Check out history, 70 years ago would be a good start. How can we be repeating the same mistakes over and over again. I truly despair with this country, its government and its citizens.
Anon

There are elements in the Police who believe that everyone's DNA should be on file. The DNA of relatives of a suspect have been used to capture murderers, so there is a clear public benefit. However this has to be counterbalanced against the 'who watches the watchmen' argument. A DNA database on its own is OK, so long as it is not misused. The tools employed by our law enforcers are invaluable in solving crime and bringing the perpetrator sot justice, but they are equally invaluable to a political police force, set up to support a dictatorship. Hence the dilemma. If we trust the Police then it's OK. If we don't then no.
Paul T Horgan, Bracknell

The DNA database should be retained. The EU wants it to be reduced because they do not have such advanced information to deal with criminals. As usual they will not support the UK. The innocent have nothing to fear.
M Moore, Steyning UK

What the innocent person doesn't know if he was stopped by the police in the future and checked on the PNC there will be a NFA record of him. So if the person was arrested for a rape the PNC will have the modus operandi of that offence against his name. Not nice for an innocent person
Ray, Rugeley

"'Innocent' people don't get arrested for serious crimes. Mike, Coventry"
You are joking, right? I mean, you don't actually believe that, do you??
Richard Lafferty

Question is, do I feel more at risk by what the government and police might do with my DNA data or do I feel more at risk from the possibility of someone hiding behind anonymity because they know their DNA cannot easily be traced without this database? I think the latter.
David, Hampshire

"Home Office minister Vernon Coaker told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that research showed half of those who reoffend after arrest do so within six years, and two-thirds within 12."
How can you re-offend if you were not even charged the first time around?
Richard Lafferty

Why stop at DNA databases to make us feel safe? Why not drug EVERYONE from birth to be an automaton who thinks as the government and our employers think we should. That way we could hand over all our money in taxes, there would be no crime. In fact, why not lock up everyone from birth, that way, no one will be able to commit ANY crimes! Some of the cowardly, anti-democratic, anti-human rights comments on here are EXACTLY the kind of thing I would expect to have read in Nazi Germany, NOT "modern" Britain.
Vish, London

Out with of the perceived fundamentals of this discussion, I would like to know, as an IT expert of some years specializing in archive management and data security, how exactly the data would be purged after 12 years (or 3 for that matter)... I'm pretty much at the leading edge of the field and still cannot imagine how that could be achieved in reality. The kind of databases being discussed are repeatedly cloned for data protection purposes and backed-up through myriad means. To purge the data entirely would require more effort than could be realistically applied to the task and even then would be at high risk of failure. Data stored like this is a lot harder to get rid of than you think - your personal computer keeps way more than you know about and I can retrieve it quite easily with physical access to your HDD. In a multi-generational backup model like this it's geometrically more difficult to eradicate records or files so I doubt the data would ever be irretrievable, even if it's only in the DB for a day - it's a moot point in other words.
Eric, Seattle, USA

Like many others, I've had my DNA taken and put onto the national database for an offence I wasn't charged for. I feel that maybe a year or even two years is long enough if anything just to be able to monitor me if required at all, but 12 years is a joke, an insult. I'll be 36 by then and it was nothing but a foolish, childish prank. I understand the idea behind the database, but it shouldn't be compulsory unless you're a proven risk to the public. Everyone makes mistakes, and the DNA database to me feels just as bad if not worse than being monitored 24/7 by CCTV. An intrusion of my privacy.
Clive, Midlands, UK

Martin Shone: I am a law abiding citizen and I DO have something to hide. I have my life and my DNA to hide from the companies that will be sold this information. I have it to hide from criminals that will find this information on laptops and CD's on the train! I have LOTS to hide. DVLA, Council details, et al are already sold to all and sundry for £2 a pop..how long till insurance companies demand access, or employers!! The DNA database should be scrapped
Vish, London

I've again had to laugh at the people comparing this to 1984. I think it's worth pointing out that that person might well be innocent at that point but it doesn't mean they'll stay innocent. Saying that however the term innocent until proven guilty MUST be rigorously enforced so I think that the database should indeed include all profiles but needs to be very well monitored to insure it doesn't become unnecessarily abused.
PaulRichard2, Southampton

If these people are not stopped from collecting this data and following this type of control freak thinking there is no doubt they will soon be calling for laws to be passed forcing us all to be micro chipped and DNA'd at birth. They will no doubt then make exactly the same arguments as the government and our over active police force are now to be heard making. UK democracy will finally expire if these people are not stopped.
Bob, Bath

Perhaps if the government is so in favour of this database they should volunteer to have their own DNA profiles stored on it. Nothing to hide, nothing to fear, right? Or is this just another system that only applies to the people who pay the bills?
Justin Credible

The British Government is now out of control with data gathering and storage, we need a fresh face in the home office to restore the public's faith in DNA and other databases, rather than the present fear of Big Brother or should that be Big sister while Ms Smith is the Home Office minister?
GlobalTemplar, Kingston upon Thames UK

To all the people bleating on about "the innocent have nothing to fear". Can I just ask why you bother to have curtains on your windows at home? Your not up to anything illegal are you? Its a small matter of personal privacy. Why should the police state that we now live in care that someone was innocent of something 12 years ago?
Ashley, Chelmsford

Shame on you, Labour Government. I'm in my mid fifties and have voted Labour all my life, but not next time. Who would have thought a Labour Government would become so increasingly authoritarian. Seriously, these people have lost the plot and are dangerous. And are the proponents of that lame excuse of 'you've nothing to fear if you've nothing to hide' really suggesting that all the millions of us who object to this are guilty of something? Honestly, wake up and smell the coffee.
John, Wiltshire

Perhaps you should read Old Dog's comment. One day a DNA database might catch the person who attacks you or someone you know, then you might face up to reality. In the meantime, the type of paranoia that shouts down attempts to catch the guilty suggest to me that you are guilty of something yourself! Teena, England
Precisely how Teena... Is having an opposing view to the database now an example of guilt of something ?? what a scary view you have Teena.
Dazz, West Worthing



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