Despite the Protection of Freedoms Act, the retention of DNA in England and Wales remains unclear and inexact.
The majority of police forces are unable to distinguish the DNA profiles of those convicted to those not charged, let alone found innocent. There is little to no standardisation between forces. Our research suggests the cost of implementing the Protection of Freedoms Act will be twice the Government’s estimate, casting serious doubt on the accuracy of the on-going costs of implementation.
As the data sharing agenda continues, and as our databases remain substantially broader than those in other countries, Britain continues to put its citizens at a disadvantage internationally.
Reports, Research and Briefings
DNA Database Policy Recommendations
1. The retention of innocent individuals’ DNA profiles should be banned
There is no justification for innocent people to have their DNA held on a central database without their consent. Membership of the Prüm Treaty means that this measure should be a priority for police forces as no DNA should be shared with other European states if that profile is of an innocent individual. As the Protection of Freedoms Act stands, individuals who were never charged may still see their DNA profile stored under ‘prescribed circumstances’ with the consent of the Biometrics Commissioner.
2. The Scottish model should be adopted for the DNA database
The Government should re-think the watered down version of the Scottish model that has been proposed. Both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties have committed themselves to the implementation of the Scottish model, as was highlighted in the Coalition agreement.
3. Biometric data should fall under the same guidelines as the DNA database
Just as worrying as the DNA database, there is currently the ability to retain biometric data based upon ‘national security determinations’ for an initial two years, but with potential for indefinite renewal. This is grossly excessive and judging from past cases of how anti-terrorism legislation has been applied it is far from certain that it will be limited to cases of credible threat to national security.