DNA Database: what can I do?

What you can do.

About a million people who have not been convicted of any offence, including about a hundred thousand children, are now on the National DNA Database. Many others have been acquitted or have been convicted of relatively minor offences (including begging, being drunk and disorderly, or taking part in an illegal demonstration) but currently remain on the Database for life. Their DNA samples are being kept permanently and may be used for controversial genetic research without their consent.

If you are on the Database, a 2001 law removed your right to have your DNA and associated records destroyed. However, this law was challenged in the European Court of Human Rights (ECthR). The ECtHR made a judgment in December 2008 in the Marper case which means that the law will now have to be changed. However, the Government has not yet implemented the Marper judgment. In the meantime, the Home Office has stated that the Chief Constable of the police force which arrested you does have the discretion to order the removal of your record and destruction of your DNA in 'exceptional circumstances'. Chief Constables are legally responsible for any information they hold about you, including your DNA.

If your DNA is not on the database but you agree that changes are needed to the policy on DNA retention on the database, it is also important that you write to your MP and the press to raise the issue.

Find out more on our 'reclaim your DNA' page


Please join our campaign

  • Visit or write to your MP - use the points in our position statement and the GW briefings to compose your letter. Use the 'they work for you' website to find your MP.
  • If you have had your DNA taken by the police, ask for your record to be removed from the database - use our guide to help you.
  • Contact your council and local Police Authority and ask them to develop a new policy on DNA retention. You can find contact details for your Police Authority here. Their website will include a list of members, including local councillors, information about when they meet and their procedures for listening to your views. Use the GeneWatch briefing to help you.
  • Black Mental Health UK has launched a campaign calling for innocent mental health patients to be removed from the Database. You can sign their petition here.

    The Liberal Democrats have also launched a petition calling on the Government to remove innocent people's DNA from the police database. It can be signed at: 'Protect innocent people's DNA'.

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