"Gordon Brown has stooped to a new low to claim that 114 murderers "would in all probability have got away" if innocent people's DNA records were deleted." said Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK. "This claim is both ridiculous and entirely false. DNA matches are not solved crimes - many matches occur with victims and with passers-by, or are false matches. People are not stupid - they know that keeping their children's DNA when they've done nothing wrong is not helping to solve crimes".
Numerous Members of Parliament have sought information on the numbers of crimes that have been solved as a result of the retaining DNA profiles from innocent people on the National DNA Database. In each case, ministers have replied that this information is not available (1).
Only some DNA matches - known as DNA detections - involve sufficient evidence to prosecute someone for a crime. Recent figures show that the chances of detecting a crime using DNA have not increased over the last 5 years, despite a doubling in size of the DNA Database (2).
Storing the DNA samples of the estimated 1 million innocent people on the DNA database costs about 1 million pounds a year (3).
For further information contact:
Dr Helen Wallace, 07903-311584 (mobile).
Notes for editors:
(1) For example, in: House of Commons Hansard 1 Mar 2006 : Column 842W; 14 Dec 2006, Column 1315W; 25 July 2007, Column 1172W; 5 Jun 2008 : Column 1125W.
(2) Figures from PQ (30 Apr 2008 : Column 489W). GeneWatch Q&A available on: http://www.genewatch.org/uploads/f03c6d66a9b354535738483c1c3d49e4/Q_A_v3.doc
An earlier increase in crimes detected is due to a tripling in the number of crime scene DNA profiles loaded onto the Database each year(from 19,233 in 1998/99 to 65,649 in 2002/03). The Home Office admits that "Evaluation of the [DNA Expansion] Programme has shown that the number of matches obtained from the Database (and the likelihood of identifying the person who committed the crime) is 'driven' primarily by the number of crime scene profiles loaded onto the Database".
Source: Home Office (2006): http://police.homeoffice.gov.uk/news-and-publications/publication/operational-policing/DNAExpansion.pdf
GeneWatch briefing available on: http://www.genewatch.org/uploads/f03c6d66a9b354535738483c1c3d49e4/DNAexpansion_brief_final.pdf
(3) DNA storage costs from paragraph 4.34 of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics Report: The forensic use of bioinformation: ethical issues: http://www.nuffieldbioethics.org/go/ourwork/bioinformationuse/introduction