This item about the National DNA Database is tantalising for what it doesn’t say:
Civil liberty campaigners claimed a victory today after the government announced it is dropping current proposals to retain the DNA profiles of innocent people on the national database.
The Home Office has announced that its plan to keep the DNA profiles of those arrested – but never convicted of a crime – for between six and 12 years depending on the seriousness of the offence has been dropped from the policing and crime bill that is going through parliament.
To be honest, ‘claiming victory’ is putting it a bit strongly. We’re all wondering what it means in practice. Yes, it’s good news that the Home Office has – for now – abandoned plans to allow the Secretary of State to set out such ridiculous retention limits; moreover, in secondary legislation.
The bad news is that for the time being there appears to be no change to the current policy of hanging on to the DNA profiles of innocent people. Promising to introduce revised plans in the next session (Dear God, not another Crime Bill) is pretty meaningless because the likelihood is slim of such a Bill getting through before the election. Indeed, if the next set of proposals are anything like as draconian as the last lot, the government may prefer to avoid courting controversy in the election run-up.
All of which means that, despite all the noise about intending to comply with the European Court judgment in Marper, by the time anything actually gets done we will quite possibly be approaching its second anniversary without the Government having done anything whatsoever about taking innocent people’s DNA off the database – and in fact having added another few hundred-thousand innocent profiles.