DNA database costs soar

Prying is pricey

Home Office figures show that the cost of running the national DNA database has more than doubled since 2002-03.

Meg Hillier MP said that in 2002-03 the cost of DNA database services was £774,300, but that service and IT development delivery costs for 2008-09 are projected as £1.77m. In 2006-07, that figure reached £2.04m, although it dropped to £1.6m last year.

Hillier said that the figures from 2006-07 and afterwards are higher, because the database's costs have been separated from the Forensic Science Service, and also because of the increase in the number of forensic suppliers required extra spending on accreditation and monitoring.

Supplier accreditation rose from £321,000 in 2002-03 to a planned £750,000 in 2008-09, meaning that the total cost of the database for the current financial year is planned to reach £2.52m, compared with £1.09m in 2002-03.

But the cost of running the database had risen steeply even before the change mentioned by Hillier. By 2005-06 the database services charge had risen 60 per cent over three years to £1.25m, excluding the supplier accreditation costs.

Hiller also revealed that in April this year that the database contained almost 350,000 sample profiles from children and adolescents aged 10 to 17. "There are more profiles than individuals, due to DNA samples being taken from some individuals on more than one occasion," she said. "It is estimated that the current rate of profile replication is about 13.3%."

Taking duplication into account, the Home Office estimates that the current number of profiles is equivalent to some 304,000 juveniles.

The minister was responding to written parliamentary questions from MPs Gordon Prentice and Grant Shapps.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

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