GeneWatch PR: GeneWatch response to calls to expand the National DNA Database

GeneWatch UK today criticised calls by a senior judge to expand Britain's DNA Database. GeneWatch's Director, Dr Helen Wallace, said:

"Collecting DNA from the whole population and every visitor to Britain would be an extraordinarily expensive and ineffective way to tackle crime. The recent massive expansion of the Database has not increased the likelihood of solving crimes, because so many people being added to it are not criminals".

However, GeneWatch supported the judge's concerns about the unfairness of the current system, which allows DNA, fingerprints and police records to be kept permanently from anyone arrested for any recordable offence in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, even if they are not charged or are acquitted (1).

"DNA is a powerful tool to track individuals and their families. The database is open to abuse by governments or by anyone - including criminals - who might infiltrate the system. Existing legislation has already gone too far. Time limits on how long DNA samples and police records can be kept should be reintroduced. A massive expansion of the database has already taken place by stealth: people in Britain should have a say about who should be on the database and how long their records should be kept."

For further information contact:

Helen Wallace: 01298-24300 (office); 07903-311584 (mobile)

Notes for editors:

(1) People arrested in Scotland have their DNA and records destroyed if they are acquitted, or held for a maximum of five years if they have been charged but not convicted of a serious violent

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