Skip to main content

UK DNA database to be trimmed after EC ruling

DNA database to keep innocent people's DNA for up to 12 years
DNA database to keep innocent people's DNA for up to 12 years

The DNA of innocent people is to be deleted from the UK DNA database, after a court ruling by the European Court of Human Rights deemed the archive of information to be illegal earlier this year.

The database had been contravening Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – 'the right to respect for private and family life' – so a change was always on the cards.

This new proposal means that if someone is arrested and later acquitted, their DNA will now eventually be erased from the database.

But the ruling does state that the information can still stay on the database for up to 12 years.

Vital role

Because of the length of time that the information is to be stored, the government is being criticised for not doing enough to protect the identity of innocent victims of the judicial process.

The Home Secretary Jacqui Smith believes that the information needs to be stored for this amount of time, explaining: "The DNA database plays a vital role in helping us do that and will help ensure that a great many criminals are behind bars where they belong.

"These new proposals will ensure that the right people are on it, as well as considering where people should come off. We will ensure that the most serious offenders are added to the database no matter when or where they were convicted.

"We also know that the database has provided matches for a significant number of serious crimes as well as providing thousands of matches for less serious crimes that cause great concern to victims, such as burglary, which is why we are proposing to keep some profiles for six years."


Marc Chacksfield

Marc Chacksfield is the Editor In Chief, at DC Thomson. He started out life as a movie writer for numerous (now defunct) magazines and soon found himself online - editing a gaggle of gadget sites, including TechRadar, Digital Camera World and Tom's Guide UK. At Shortlist you'll find him mostly writing about movies and tech, so no change there then.