Feeds

UK.gov back to the drawing board on DNA retention

Once more, with feeling

High performance access to file storage

The government has dumped a heavily-criticised plan to retain the DNA profiles of innocent people for up to 12 years, after the researchers behind evidence it was based on disowned the policy.

Today, the Home Office said the forthcoming Crime and Policing bill won't include the proposals.

It's now unclear what ministers plan to do in response to their defeat at the European Court of Human Rights last December. Judges said retaining innocent people's DNA profiles indefinitely was illegal.

A Home Office statement said today: "The Government will take the most expedient route to address the issue as soon as possible in order to comply with the European Court's judgement."

A spokesman declined to provide any information on what the new policy will be.

At present in England and Wales, DNA is taken from every person arrested. At the last count the National DNA Database contained 986,000 profiles belonging to people never convicted of a crime. Individuals can apply to chief constables to have theirs removed, but ACPO has told the same chief constables it is "vitally important" they resist such requests.

By contrast, in Scotland profiles are "retained from all convicted persons indefinitely, but would be retained from unconvicted persons only if proceedings were raised against them for a relevant sexual or violent offence".

The Westminister government proposed retention of innocent people's DNA for six to 12 years as part of a consultation exercise over the summer. It based the policy in part on research by the Jill Dando Institute, but was last month publicly condemned by the scientists for using unchecked numbers.

"We were under pressure from the Home Office to publish, and felt we had no option but to allow them to use this work," Jill Dando Institute director Gloria Laycock told The Register.

"That was probably a mistake with hindsight," she said in another interview. "We should have just said 'you might as well just stick your finger in the air and think of a number."

A spokeswoman for Liberty today cautiously welcomed the decision not to retain DNA profiles from innocent profiles for up to 12 years. The group said it would await new proposals before celebrating, however.

Director Shami Chakrabarti said: "This is another victory for Article 8 of the Human Rights Convention which protects the personal privacy of everyone in Britain.

"This law was breached by the largest DNA database per capita in the world and would still be breached by the Home Office's discredited proposals."

Alternative proposals to try to bring the UK policing in line with human rights law are expected in the Crime and Policing Bill, in the Queen's Speech on November 18. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
EFF: Feds plan to put 52 MILLION FACES into recognition database
System would identify faces as part of biometrics collection
Big Content goes after Kim Dotcom
Six studios sling sueballs at dead download destination
Alphadex fires back at British Gas with overcharging allegation
Brit colo outfit says it paid for 347KVA, has been charged for 1940KVA
Jack the RIPA: Blighty cops ignore law, retain innocents' comms data
Prime minister: Nothing to see here, go about your business
Singapore decides 'three strikes' laws are too intrusive
When even a prurient island nation thinks an idea is dodgy it has problems
Banks slap Olympus with £160 MEEELLION lawsuit
Scandal hit camera maker just can't shake off its past
France bans managers from contacting workers outside business hours
«Email? Mais non ... il est plus tard que six heures du soir!»
Reprieve for Weev: Court disowns AT&T hacker's conviction
Appeals court strikes down landmark sentence
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.