Whose DNA profiles are on the database?

Anyone arrested for a recordable offence.

Since April 2004 everyone arrested for a recordable offence in England, Wales or Northern Ireland can have their DNA taken while they are held at a police station. In Scotland, DNA can be taken on arrest for any imprisonable offence (but note that this does not mean that a prison sentence is a likely outcome of the case). The DNA samples taken at the police station are sent to commercial laboratories for analysis in England and Wales, or police forensic laboratories in Scotland or Northern Ireland. The computerised DNA profiles (a string of numbers based on part of the DNA) are then sent to the computer database. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland records are removed and DNA destroyed only in 'exceptional circumstances'. Otherwise the policy is to keep them until age 100. In Scotland most people automatically have their DNA records removed and their DNA destroyed if charges are dropped or they are acquitted (this applies to about 20,000 people a year). However, police in Scotland can choose to retain the DNA and records of someone who has been acquitted of a serious violent or sexual offence for three years, plus a further two years on application to a Sheriff.


The police can ask people to give a sample of their DNA as a way of eliminating them from enquiries. In these cases, people can consent to having their DNA used only for the inquiry, or give an additional signature if they agree to having their DNA profile added to the database. In Scotland volunteers can change their minds and ask to be removed from the Database, but this is not possible in England and Wales. However, the NDNAD Ethics Group recommended in April 2008 that volunteers should not have their DNA added to the Database at all, and their DNA should be destroyed when the case has ended. This recommendation is likely to be implemented because there is no evidence that adding volunteers' DNA to the database is helping to solve crimes.

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