UK DNA database biggest in world

The DNA of some four million UK citizens is held on a database, making it the biggest per capita in the world, according to a new report by a policing agency.

The first annual report from the National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) has shown that as of March 2007 some 3.8 million people have a record on the DNA database, following a record jump in the number of new samples. Some 722,000 were added last year.

Nearly 80 per cent of the records are for men, with 41 per cent aged 15-24. Even kids are in the mix, with eight per cent of the records for people aged under 14, the report showed.

While the number of people on the database jumped, the number of samples from crime scenes fell from 68,774 in 2006 to 55,200 last year largely because of a fall in burglaries, the report claimed.

Last year saw 44,000 samples from crime scenes matched to individuals on the database.

While the report admitted that DNA doesn't actually solve that many crimes, it stressed it is a "powerful contributor" when it can be used.

Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Huhne said the database has a negative effect on children and ethnic minorities and is intrusive. "The Government is rapidly building the world's biggest DNA database, by stealth," he said in a statement. "Rarely has so much effort been made to collect so much intrusive and irrelevant data."

A report earlier this year by the Human Genetics Commission called for control of the database to be taken out of the hands of the police and government, while last year the Nuffield Council on Bioethics said it should only hold samples of convicted criminals.

NPIA had not returned request for comment by the time of publication, but we'll update the story when they do.