UK government says no plans to create compulsory DNA database

[JURIST] The UK Home Office [official website] said Saturday that the government has no plans to create a compulsory DNA database for British citizens, citing ethical and information security concerns. The country's more limited existing National DNA Database [Home Office backgrounder], which retains DNA information collected from criminal suspects upon arrest, has already been criticized by rights groups for retaining the information of suspects after they are found innocent, and for displaying a racial bias [JURIST reports] against minorities. One proponent of the database, UK Lord Justice Stephen Sedley [official profile], has said that the database should be expanded [JURIST report] to include all citizens and visitors to the country in order to combat crime and to eliminate the racial bias. Policing Minister Tony McNulty [official profile] defended the current system, telling BBC News that the system's "balance and the fairness and proportionality is about right where it's now." McNulty also expressed concerns about maintaining the security of the DNA database if it were expanded to include 60 million people.

The government statements come in response to criticism that a universal database would have expedited the identification of a man recently convicted in the high profile murder [BBC backgrounder] of model Sally Anne Bowman. The European Court of Human Rights [official website] on Wednesday will hear a challenge [press release; decision on admissibility] to current database practices brought by two men who were cleared of charges after having DNA taken and archived. Australia's ABC News has more. BBC News has additional coverage.

 

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