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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 November 2006, 08:26 GMT
NI police DNA database trebles
The police DNA database in Northern Ireland has trebled
Police in Northern Ireland hold DNA samples on 1,116 people who have not been convicted of, or charged with any offence, it has emerged.

Samples from almost 56,000 individuals are now held on the DNA database.

Paul O'Connor from the Pat Finucane human rights centre said the PSNI were going too far.

He said in Scotland, Germany, Austria or Finland, DNA was automatically destroyed if someone was not convicted of a recordable offence.

"It is a no-brainer to have a discussion about whether DNA should be retained on people found guilty of serious violent offences or sexual offences. That is absolutely clear and there is no discussion around that," Mr O'Connor said.

"The discussion is, should we be following the example in Britain at the moment - or should we be following the example of Scotland or Germany or Austria or Finland or other countries where DNA is automatically destroyed if someone is not convicted of a recordable offence?"

More than 45,000 of those whose DNA is held by the PSNI have been convicted of an offence. About 9,000 more have been charged or are being prosecuted.

DNA databases are held by police forces across the UK and in Europe and are rapidly growing in size.

The size of the database in Northern Ireland appears to have more than trebled in the past six years.

In total, it now holds nearly 70,000 samples but only about 17,000 date back to the year 2000.

The PSNI released the figures to BBC Radio Foyle under the Freedom of Information Act.

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