Crimes solved by DNA evidence fall despite millions being added to database
The case for the national DNA database has been undermined by figures showing that the addition of millions of profiles in the past six years has not increased the number of crimes solved by DNA evidence.
In the past year the number of crimes solved using DNA has actually fallen despite the number of people on the database rising to more than four million.
The news comes as European Union judges decide whether to wipe over a million profiles from innocent people from the database. Campaigners will debate the issue at the meeting in Parliament on Tuesday night.
Figures show that for the past six years the number of crimes solved using DNA evidence has remained static at between 0.34 and 0.36 per cent – about one in 300 of all recorded crimes.
The number of crimes which were solved by a DNA match fell by 13 per cent to 17,614 last year as recorded crime fell overall, according to figures contained in Parliamentary answers.
Over the same period the number of people’s whose identity was on the national DNA database more than doubled in size from 1.9million people to 4.1million.
There was a big boost to the figures in April 2004 when police were able to take DNA from anyone arrested for a recordable offence before they were charged. Previously, they had to wait until the offenders were charged.
Helen Wallace, from campaigners GeneWatch UK which compiled the figures, said: "The permanent retention of records of arrest linked to DNA is unprecedented in British history.
"If your DNA is on the database the government could use it to track you or your relatives, even if you are innocent of any crime. A smaller database would be much cheaper and also more effective.
"Police officers should not be wasting time and money taking DNA from 10-year-olds accused of minor misdemeanours."
The Liberal Democrats’ shadow home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne said the Government should make strenuous attempts to target the DNA of those convicted before the database was expanded in 2001.
He said: "These figures undermine the Government’s flawed argument in favour of holding the DNA of innocent people. Bigger is not always better.
"Rarely can so much effort have been made and money spent to collect so much intrusive and irrelevant data.
"The DNA database is not the universal panacea to crime ministers would have us believe – the huge expansion of the database has not improved detection.
"Innocent people should be removed from the database before our more courageous European counterparts force us to do so through the courts."
The Tories’ shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve added: “It is a sign of this Government’s skewed priorities that a million innocent citizens have been swabbed and sampled onto the DNA database, while serious criminals are left off.
“This latest research just strengthens the case for a national debate on the scope of this database, including the criteria for retention of DNA.”
A Home Office spokesman said: “The National DNA Database is a key intelligence tool which has revolutionised the way the police can protect the public through identifying offenders and securing more convictions.
“The benefits of the NDNAD lie not only in detecting the guilty but in eliminating the innocent from inquiries, focusing the direction of inquiries resulting in savings in police time and in building public confidence that elusive offenders may be detected and brought to justice”.