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Top Jock cop calls for universal DNA database

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The Chief Constable of Scotland's largest police force, Strathclyde, is calling for all Scots to be put on the DNA database.

Stephen House wants all samples kept forever - the Scottish system currently removes profiles from people acquitted of crimes or never charged. He suggested all newborn babies should have a sample taken as well as people who apply for a driving licence, enabling Scottish police to build up a complete database over time.

The Scottish DNA database has several differences from those used in England and Wales. Children as young as eight can have samples taken, but samples are destroyed if people are not charged with offences - in England and Wales samples are routinely kept.

House accepted that the move might not deter people from committing crimes but would make them easier to catch.

Although police are keen to bang the drum for cases where DNA evidence has proved vital, there are obvious privacy objections as well as fears that over-reliance on DNA evidence will lead criminals to use it as an alibi - infecting a crime scene with someone else's DNA.

The Human Genetics Commission is investigating the issues around the National DNA Database prior to reporting back to the Home Office. Last week its citizens' enquiry called for adoption of the Scottish rules on deleting profiles and destroying samples.

Strathclyde University is carrying out a similar review for the Scottish government. ®

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