Less than two thirds of people whose profile is stored on the National DNA Database are there for having been cautioned or convicted of a criminal offence, Home Office figures have revealed.
In response to a parliamentary question, John Reid last week responded that 3,457,000 individuals are on the database, but 1,139,445 have no criminal record. The figure is eight times the total of 139,463 reported by the Home Office Earlier in March.
The news sneaked out on Monday last week, at the height of the Ipswich serial killings manhunt. The Tories this weekend accused the government of burying bad news and called for a vote on whether the innocent should be included in the database.
The National DNA Database is the world's largest repository of human DNA profiles. Anyone who is arrested by the police for any offence has a sample taken for the database. The project has been broadly condemned by civil liberties groups, and by Sir Alec Jeffreys, the man who developed DNA fingerprinting.
In November he said: "Now hundreds of thousands of entirely innocent people are populating that database, people who have come to the police's attention, for example by being charged with a crime and subsequently released."
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics launched an investigation into the database soon after Tony Blair effectively called for the database to contain the details of every individual in the UK. He said: "The number on the database should be the maximum number you can get."
Home Office Minister Andy Burnham pledged there would no complete database.
The Nuffield Council on Bioethics is due to report in Autumn next year. ®