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Home Office coughs to Dutch DNA screw-up

Lost disc with 22 crooks' DNA

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The Home Office has admitted it could have identified 22 criminals from DNA left at Dutch crime scenes if it had checked them against the UK's national DNA database.

In January 2007 Dutch police sent the Crown Prosecution Service a disc containing 2,159 DNA profiles collected from crime scenes. The idea was to check these against the national DNA database, but the CPS lost the disc instead. In August 2007 it asked Dutch police for another copy of the disc - a request which was unsurprisingly turned down. After a year, in January 2008, the disc turned up and was handed to police.

Home Office minister Meg Hillier told Parliament yesterday: "Of the 2,159 DNA profiles received from crime scenes in the Netherlands, 22 full matches were established against individuals on the UK DNA database. Ten of the individuals identified have committed offences in the UK since January 2007 and represent a total of 13 convictions." The most serious offence was aggravated burglary.

Cases are still going on against four people suspected of six offences - the most serious being attempted robbery.

Hillier said the government would continue to increase cross-border data sharing in line with the Prüm Council Decision. This will give police access to DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration information across Europe.

The LibDems questioned what the government was doing collecting DNA from innocent men, women and children if it was not capable of properly using the DNA it was given from actual crime scenes. ®

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