UK judge says all citizens and visitors should have samples in DNA database

[JURIST] UK Lord Justice Stephen Sedley said Wednesday that all UK citizens and visitors should have their DNA included in the national DNA database [UK Home Office backgrounder; POST backgrounder, PDF] because the current repository is insufficient. Sedley said that the UK DNA database, the world's largest at 4 million samples, has a disproportionate amount of samples from ethnic minorities and typically includes only those who have been arrested by police. Richard Thomas, head of the UK Information Commissioner's Office, agreed that the system has flaws, but expressed concerns that a nationwide database could be very intrusive to personal privacy.

The DNA database program compiles the DNA of all arrested crime suspects and creates a permanent file, even if a suspect is later cleared of the crime. Last year, the chairman of Britain's Commission for Racial Equality [official website] said that he planned to investigate possible racial biases [JURIST report] in the nation's crime-fighting DNA database in the wake of reports that 77 percent of the UK's black men ages 18 - 34 would be entered into the database, while only 22 percent of young white men and 6 percent of the general population were expected to be included. AP has more. The Independent has local coverage.

 

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