A brief debate in the Lords yesterday followed a question from the Earl of Onslow:
How many samples of DNA have been retained from those who have not been convicted of any offence; how many of those are children, and how many from ethnic minority groups.
Needless to say, no figures were forthcoming. Grant Shapps has already tried to get the figures for children; the children’s commissioners are busting a gut to get them, and now the Earl of Onslow joins the ranks of those who have been told that the Home Office is working on a ‘technical solution’ to find out how many unconvicted children are on the National DNA database.
What puzzles us is that the Home Office managed to come up with a figure of 24,168 just over a year ago. It’s very specific, isn’t it? It’s not: “Oooh, I should reckon around 25,000”. So why can’t they get the figures now? Dates of birth are recorded on both the Police National Computer (criminal record) and NDNAD (DNA profile). They’ve managed figures for the population as a whole, so why can they not extract the data for everyone born after March 1989?
On the other hand, we’ve always suspected that the apparently precise figure of 24,168 was cobblers – see our submission to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics for the reasosn.