DNA Database Scientist Slams Labour’s Register of the Innocents

Professor Alec Jefferys, the scientist who developed ‘genetic fingerprinting’ to use DNA in criminal cases, has criticised Labour’s use of a database to hold samples from the innocent. He told the BBC:

My concern is that the way the database is now being populated by increasingly innocent people – and getting hard numbers on this is difficult.

I’ve seen figures as high as 800,000 entirely innocent people on that database. My concerns, which were very much reflected in a recent ruling by the European Court of Human Rights, is that this is a real violation of an individual’s privacy.

Currently, the police retain all DNA samples they take on a national database, regardless of whether any charges are brought or convictions are made. As a result, the Liberal Democrats have led a campaign to remove the data for as many as 850,000 innocent people on the database – a figure which includes 40,000 children who have never been charged with any crime.

The Liberal Democrats’ Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne, has welcomed Prof. Jefferys’ comments:

It demonstrates how out of touch the Government is with public opinion when the inventor of genetic fingerprinting has to tell them how unfair the DNA database is.

It is unacceptable for the state to store the DNA of innocent people. The European Court agrees, Professor Jeffreys agrees and the public agrees. The Government must bring forward concrete proposals to remove the DNA of those that have done nothing wrong.

Professor Jeffreys is also right to point out that the DNA database is not the flawless crime-fighting tool ministers would have us believe.

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