Police Storing DNA Swabs From Thousands of Young People in Shropshire

The Government’s DNA database holder has revealed that West Mercia Police hold DNA records on 19,001 young people under the age of 18 in their area, the majority of whom have committed no crime. Approaching a third of these are in Shropshire.
The National Policing Improvement Agency, responding to a Freedom of Information Act request from the Liberal Democrats, said that it now holds over 1 million DNA samples from young people.
Local Shropshire campaigner, Cllr Heather Kidd said “The DNA samples, taken from children as young as ten years old, have been kept regardless of whether or not the children were charged with any crime. This is ludicrous and ineffective. Having taught children of this age I say categorically that this is counterproductive in the extreme. Putting them through this sort of indignity is hardly going to enhance their respect for the police or the law.”
Nearly 40% of these 1.1 million mouth swabs have been taken from 10-14 year-olds, and then stored alongside data on each young person’s ‘ethnic appearance’, sex and age. In 2009 alone, police forces have taken DNA from 54,311 ‘subject profiles’ aged between 10 and 17. This is despite the European Court of Human Rights last December ruling that stockpiling the DNA taken using mouth swabs of 850,000 innocent people was unlawful. In response, the Government has only offered a partial climb-down, ordering the police to not store the DNA from children younger than ten.
The professor who developed the genetic techniques that contributed to the database’s development has attacked the Government for keeping innocent peoples’ DNA. Sir Alec Jeffreys said the practice caused innocent people to be “branded as criminals”.
Heather concluded: “The Government’s approach to tackling crime is unfair, heavy-handed and ineffective.”