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All citizens, visitors should be in DNA database: UK judge

September 05, 2007 15:27 IST

All citizens of the United Kingdom and every visitor to the country should be included in the national DNA database, a senior judge said on Wednesday.

"It would be fairer to include everybody, guilty or innocent," said Sir Stephen Sedley, one of England's most experienced appeal court judges. The judge also felt that the present records included a 'disproportionate' number of ethnic minorities.

The UK has the largest crime database in the world, with over four million profiles taken from suspects or recovered from crime scenes.

"We have a situation where if you happen to have been in the hands of the police then your DNA is on permanent record. If you haven't, it isn't. It means that a great many people who are walking the streets and whose DNA would show them guilty of crimes, go free," Sedley told the BBC.

"It means that people who have been arrested but acquitted, some of them because they are innocent, some of them because they are just lucky, all stay on the database," he said.

Sedley added, "It means where there is ethnic profiling going on, disproportionate numbers of ethnic minorities get onto the database."

However, the Home Office said that expanding the database would raise logistical and ethical issues.

Critics say those who commit certain offences should have their details removed after a certain period. But Judge Sedley said reducing the database would be a mistake.

"Everybody, guilty or innocent, should expect their DNA to be on file for the absolutely rigorously restricted purpose of crime detection and prevention," he said.

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