DNA database may contain records of one million innocent people

Over 90,000 innocent people have been added to the DNA database since the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled against the practice.

Over 90,000 innocent people have been added to the DNA database since the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled against the practice.

The figures, which were obtained by the Liberal Democrats, showed 433,752 DNA profiles had been added to the database since the ECHR ruling on 5 December 2008, equalling 1,480 per day. In the same period, only 611 profiles were removed.

There are now nearly 5.5 million DNA profiles on the database relating to 4.8 million people. The government estimated in 2008 that 20% of people on the database are innocent - meaning records of one million innocent people may be held on it.

The Home Office recently dropped proposals to keep the DNA of innocent people for 12 years, but privacy campaigners want it to go further.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is pressuring the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to change guidance to chief constables that tells them to continue collecting DNA profiles of innocent people.

The commission said, "The commission believes that guidance given by ACPO to chief constables does not meet the ECHR requirement for there to be clear and justifiable reasons for holding the DNA data from people who have not been convicted of a crime."

It gave ACPO 28 days from 19 October to confirm that the advice will be withdrawn. It said it will consider taking "formal enforcement action" if ACPO fails to do so.

John Wadham, group director legal at the EHRC, said, "We can see no reason why ACPO should not change its guidance on the retention of DNA."

Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jenny Willott said, "It is appalling that the government has allowed over a million innocent people to be added to the DNA database. Despite the European ruling that the practice is a breach of human rights, for every innocent DNA profile removed from the database, around 150 new ones are added.

"The Home Office needs to put an end to this charade by removing all innocent people from the database, once and for all."

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