Secret e-mails reveal misuse of police DNA database

The security of the police National DNA Database is in question following the disclosure of confidential emails which reveal that a private firm has secretly been keeping the genetic samples and personal details of hundreds of thousands of arrested people.

According to the Guardian, the Home Office has given permission for a controversial genetic study to be undertaken using the DNA samples on the police database to see if it is possible to predict a suspect's ethnic background or skin colour from them. Permission has been given for the DNA being collected on the police database to be used in 20 research studies.

These latest disclosures, which were unearthed following a series of Freedom of Information Act requests by The Observer and the campaign group GeneWatch, will give rise to fears that many DNA samples being collected by police from innocent people could be misused. 'Britain's DNA database is spiralling out of control,' said Dr Helen Wallace, deputy director of GeneWatch. 'Thousands of innocent people, including children and victims of crime, are taking part in controversial genetic research without their knowledge or consent.'

Police DNA database 'is spiralling out of control': Secret emails show private firms store genetic data from innocent victims (The Observer, 16 July 2006)