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Plod to retain personal data from DNA innocents

Council of Europe hunts for slapping gloves

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Police will continue to retain the personal details of everyone they arrest, despite a human rights ruling meaning the DNA profiles they are linked to must be deleted.

The European Court of Human Rights said last year that DNA data should not be indefinitely retained from those who have not been charged or convicted.

The government plans to delete some such profiles, hoping to bring the UK into line with the law, but it's emerged they do not plan to delete the accompanying identity data on the Police National Computer.

In 2005, changes to DNA procedures meant a PNC record was created each time a sample was taken, The Observer reports. These records won't be deleted as part of the response to the human rights ruling.

The Information Commissioner's Office raised concerns that police retention of data from innocent people could damage their prospects via employment background checks.

"The commissioner is concerned that the very existence of a police identity record created as a result of a DNA sample being taken on arrest could prejudice the interests of the individual to whom it relates by creating inaccurate assumptions about his or her criminal past," it said.

Lobby group Liberty added: "Government has fed a culture where arrest might as well be conviction, and suspicion equals guilt. In this climate, a permanent record of suspicion can seriously damage the life chances of any young person who has ever had their collar felt by the police."

It may yet prove that the Home Office has to revise its changes to DNA retention. The Council of Europe, responsible for ensuring governments comply with human rights rulings, has said it is not yet convinced the deletion plans go far enough. ®

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