Ministers have been accused of building a national DNA database “by stealth” by retaining profiles of nearly 40,000 children never convicted of a crime.

The government says there are 39,095 DNA profiles of 10-18 year olds from England and Wales who were arrested but never cautioned or charged.

The Home Office said retaining DNA was a “key intelligence tool”[…]

The Lib Dems say the DNA of “blameless children” should not be retained.

‘Startling figures’

Currently samples from anyone arrested for a recordable offence and detained at a police station in England and Wales – innocent or guilty – can be kept on file indefinitely. Innocent people who volunteer to give a DNA sample during a police inquiry also have their details kept on record.

Junior minister Meg Hillier confirmed on Friday that there were 349,934 DNA profiles of under-18s on the database.

She also acknowledged there were 39,095 DNA profiles of youngsters who were never cautioned or charged.

Chris Huhne, the Lib Dems’ home affairs spokesman, said: “These startling figures show that the government is building a national DNA database by stealth.

“There can be no excuse for storing the DNA of innocent adults, let alone children, who are entirely blameless.”

He said many people with criminal records were not on the database and said the government could not be trusted with its security.

For the Conservatives, shadow home secretary Dominic Grieve said “This is yet more evidence that the DNA database is totally arbitrary with tens of thousands of innocent kids on it but not every offender in our prisons,” he said.

A Home Office spokeswoman said “Inclusion on the DNA database does not signify a criminal record[…] or material disadvantage to the individual simply by being on it.”

The UK has the largest police DNA database in the world, with more than four million people on file.
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