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Rights commission slams police DNA database advice

Still adding innocents? Well, don't

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The Equality and Human Rights Commission has criticised the Association of Chief Police Officers' advice to chief constables to continue adding profiles of innocent people to the DNA database.

The advice recommends continuing to apply existing retention policy until the Home Office issues new guidance in 2010. According to the commission, this does not meet a European Court of Human Rights requirement for there to be clear reasons for holding DNA data on someone who has not been convicted of a crime.

In a letter to the government, it has asked for interim guidance to be issued to police forces in England and Wales that comply with the European ruling.

It has also written to the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers outlining its concerns. The committee is meeting on 15 September 2009 to consider action taken by the UK Government to execute the judgement in the case of S and Marper v United Kingdom.

This ruled that the government should not retain the DNA profiles of two individuals after criminal proceedings against them were terminated.

John Wadham, group director legal at the commission, said: "The police are at the forefront of the fight against crime. The importance of this fight cannot be underestimated, but it should comply with the government's legal obligation to protect the privacy of innocent people, as outlined by the European Court.

"The government should take the opportunity to clarify the law now and avert future costly and time consuming legal action."

Liberal Democrat shadow home secretary Chris Huhne said: "No more innocent people should be added to the DNA database and the million already on it must be taken off immediately."

This article was originally published at Kable.

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