Page last updated at 16:10 GMT, Monday, 19 October 2009 17:10 UK

Suspects' DNA data plans changed

Scientist examining DNA sequence
The plans involve people arrested but not charged with crimes

The government has dropped plans to give ministers wide powers on holding innocent people's DNA data on record.

The Policing and Crime Bill had proposed allowing ministers to set time limits on holding DNA but had not set out how long these would be.

Campaigners argued that such plans would mean less parliamentary scrutiny.

The government has dropped the proposals from the bill and says it will introduce revised legislation later this autumn.

The plans relate to people arrested for suspected crimes but never charged.

A European Court of Human Rights ruling last year said the policy of retaining all suspects' data was "blanket and indiscriminate".

'Victory'

Following this ministers proposed allowing DNA details to remain on the database for up to 12 years instead of indefinitely.

They had said this would happen via a parliamentary order - which would require a vote but would be given less time for debate than a bill.

When the consultation was published earlier this year, critics said Parliament needed a full debate on the issues surrounding how many people are held on the database and for how long.

Commenting on the government's change of policy, Shami Chakrabarti, director of Liberty, said: "This is another victory for Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention which protects the personal privacy of everyone in Britain.

"This law was breached by the largest DNA database per capita in the world and would still be breached by the Home Office's discredited proposals."

She added: "Stockpiling the intimate details of millions of innocents is bad enough without ducking public and parliamentary scrutiny by sneaking regulations in by the back door."

A Home Office spokesman said: "We have now completed a public consultation on proposals to ensure the right people are on the database as well as considering when people should come off.

"Those proposals were grounded in the research and allowed us to respond to the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights both swiftly and effectively.

"The government will take the most expedient route to address the issue as soon as possible in order to comply with the European Court's judgment."

Shadow Home Office minister Damian Green said: "This is a welcome retreat in Parliament.

"The government now needs to do the right thing and go further and call an immediate end to the retention of DNA records of innocent people.

"We expect to see provisions in the next Policing and Crime Bill which respect the European Court ruling which ministers have been defying for too long."



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