Criminal Law: DNA samples to be collected from thousands of criminals not in database

Criminal Law: DNA samples to be collected from thousands of criminals not in database

Currently, convicted criminals must give DNA samples which are held on a database. However, this law only came into force in March meaning that there are thousands of criminals convicted before the law came into force whose DNA is not recorded.

Home Secretary Theresa May is expected to announce plans to collect DNA samples from people convicted of serious offences such as manslaughter, murder and rape.

Home Office researchers have identified around 13,000 of the most high-risk criminals convicted of serious crimes since 1974 whose DNA samples are not yet on file.

Mrs May believes that by adding these convicted criminals’ DNA, the database will be made more effective and it could potential help to clarify unsolved offences in which DNA evidence was found at the crime scene.

While she intends that police officers will make a concerted effort to track down these people and record their DNA profiles, police officers are concerned that they will not have the resources to do so.

Gary Pugh, from Acpo, said: “Where these individuals come into contact with the police, we will take their DNA and it will be added to the database.

“[Chief constables would] consider diverting resources towards securing DNA from these people based upon an assessment of the potential risk an individual poses to the community.”

As well as adding to the database, the plans will include reducing the storage period for DNA samples of people who are charged but not convicted. The period would be cut from six years to three.

Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper is opposed to these plans claiming that: “The Home Secretary seems hellbent on weakening the ability of the police to fight crime.”

She claimed that this would result in thousands of potential criminals going on to commit serious crimes, whose DNA profiles had been removed from police records.

Former Labour Home Secretary Ala Johnson also claimed that cutting DNA profile storage time would be a “catastrophic error” that would “come back to haunt” the Coalition Government.

Related links:
Read more on the story (BBC)
Are the police allowed to take an keep fingerprints and DNA? (FIndLaw)
Find local criminal solicitors throughout the UK (FindLaw)

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