Government DNA database plans slammed again

Government plans to hold for 12 years the DNA data of people not found guilty of any crimes break human rights laws.

That is the verdict of independent watchdog the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which criticised the proposals that also include indefinitely storing the data of people who are convicted of crimes.

It said the plan “does not meet the European Court of Human Rights requirement for the UK government to have clear, justifiable reasons for holding on to DNA data from people who had not been convicted of a crime”.

The government announced the plans in May after the European Court of Human Rights ruled some of the original proposals were illegal.

The commission said that the government needed to destroy DNA profiles, once cases were decided, making exceptions only for those convicted of serious crimes where destroying information posed a risk. It recommended that an independent adjudicator be appointed to oversee the system.

Additionally, holding children’s data for as long as adults was unlawful, it said. In May, the government said it was holding the DNA profile of a baby.

John Wadham, legal director at the commission, said: “The proposed changes to the national DNA database are a step in the right direction, but we think there is no reason why the police should be allowed to keep anyone’s DNA profile indefinitely.”

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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