The Guardian reports that UK police are going to destroy 800,000 profiles in the national DNA database. Profiles to be destroyed “include people who have been arrested and never charged, and those taken to court but found not guilty.”
The move comes after a December decision (pdf) by the European Court of Human Rights that said that retaining innocent individuals’ genetic data in the UK National DNA Database was a violation of human rights, specifically “the right to respect for his private and family life” set out in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (pdf). The decision affects individuals age 10 or older who have been acquitted or had charges against them dropped after their arrest in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland.
An estimated 800,000 of the 5.1m DNA profiles on the database belong to people in England and Wales who have no criminal conviction.
A Home Office consultation paper will also outline plans to delete all physical DNA samples on the database, including mouth swabs, hair and blood. The move follows widespread concerns that the samples could be shared with third parties.
The campaign group Genewatch, which opposes the DNA database, has warned that health and drug companies want access to the samples to create profiles to predict who is genetically susceptible to different illnesses and diseases. There have also been fears the samples could one day be used for racial profiling or even to predict criminal behaviour. […]
Despite mounting outrage over the use of the DNA database, the government insists that DNA can play an essential role in fighting crime. The Home Office says that between April 1998 and September 2008 there were more than 390,000 crimes with DNA matches.