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DNA database includes nipper and nonagenarian

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Jacqui Smith yesterday showed how the DNA database presents a truly wideview snapshot of Britain when she revealed the youngest subject on the database is under one year while the oldest is over 90.

Smith revealed the data in an answer to a question from Lib Dem MP Chris Huhne.

She said, “As at 26 November 2008, the youngest person with a profile on the National DNA Database was aged under one year and the oldest was over 90 years old.” Just for absolute clarity, she added that “the youngest person to have had a profile added to the NDNAD was under one year old, and the oldest was over 90 years old, at the time the profile was added.”

Smith was at pains to ensure that her answer did not breach anyone's human rights, pointing out that she couldn't disclose the precise age of the nongenarian subject, “as it would constitute personal data as defined by Article 2 of the European Data Protection Directive: information relating to an identified or identifiable individual.”

She also reassured Huhne that she had declared back in December that the government would take immediate steps to remove the DNA profiles of children aged under ten from the DNA repository.

Smith gave no indication as to whether the baby and the oldie were actual criminals or suspects. It is of course unlikely, though not impossible, that the nation's youth are getting up to naughties before they can walk.

And age does not exclude you from criminality. It is entirely possible that the subjects were caught up in police investigations which required the taking of DNA samples, and their retention on the database – for a while at least.

Still, the information was enough to prompt righteous indignation from Huhne, who said “It is illegal, immoral and ineffective to keep the DNA of a baby on a national police database as if they had committed some felony. The sooner the Home Secretary implements the European Court’s ruling that our DNA database contravenes the right to privacy, the better."

“Since the DNA database began, nearly 1.1 million children have had their DNA stored without their permission. Children have become the soft target of a random DNA policy,” he fumed.

Or they have become the target of a DNA policy which believes in predestination, and reasons that any children it encounters will probably grow up to become criminal, so surely it makes sense to swab 'em now and get it over and done with. ®

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