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News Archives: Index

October 7, 2010: Probation Set For Industrial Action

October 5, 2010: Turning Prisoners Into Taxpayers

October 4, 2010: Murder Changes Now In Force

September 20, 2010: Probation Programmes Face Cuts

August 24, 2010: Victorian Poor Law Records Online

August 10, 2010: Justice Job Cuts

July 28, 2010: Prison Violence Growing

July 22, 2010: Police Numbers: Latest Figures

July 22, 2010: New Jurisdiction Rules

July 16, 2010: CCJS On Prison And Probation Spending Under Labour

July 15, 2010: Latest Statistics On Violent And Sexual Crime

July 15, 2010: Latest National Crime Figures

July 15, 2010: New Chief Prisons Inspector

July 14, 2010: Hard Times Ahead For Prisons: Anne Owers

July 14, 2010: Prison Does Not Work: Ken Clarke

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform: Sentencing and Rehabilitation

July 13, 2010: Criminal Justice Reform Priorities

July 12, 2010: What Price Public Protection, Asks Probation Chief Inspector

July 12, 2010: NOMS has failed, says Napo

July 10, 2010: IPCC To Investigate Death of Raoul Moat

July 9, 2010: Women In Prison: New Report

July 9, 2009: Unjust Deserts: Imprisonment for Public Protection

July 8, 2010: Police Search Powers Change

July 7, 2010: Make 'Legal High' Illegal, Says ACMD

July 2, 2010: Failing Children In Prison

July 2, 2010: Police Buried Under a Blizzard of Guidance: HMIC

July 1, 2010: Freedom To Change The Law?

June 30, 2010: A New Outlook On Penal Reform?

June 30, 2010: Revolving Door Of Offending Must Stop, Says Clarke

June 30, 2010: Ken Clarke: Speech on Criminal Justice Reform

June 29, 2010: No More Police Targets

June 26, 2010: Family Intervention Projects Questioned

June 25, 2010: Cutting Criminal Justice

June 24, 2010: Napo on Sex Offenders Report

June 23, 2010: Closing Courts: The Cuts Begin

June 23, 2010: Strategy To Tackle Gangs

June 15, 2010: Courts and Mentally Disordered Offenders

June 8, 2010: Working With Muslims in Prison

June 1, 2010: Your Chance To Nominate a QC

May 7, 2009: DNA Database Proposals

New proposals to reassure the public that the right people are kept on the DNA database have been outlined by Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

DNA and the use of forensics play an essential role in fighting crime and providing justice for victims. The UK has been recognised as the world leader in developing the use of the national DNA database and catching criminals through reviews of so called ‘cold cases’.

In 2006-7 alone there were 41,717 crimes with DNA matches. These included 452 homicides, 644 rapes, 222 other sex offences and 1,872 other violent crimes. There were also thousands of matches with less serious crimes, including more than 8,500 domestic burglaries.

Between April 1998 and September 2008, there were over 390,000 crimes with DNA matches, providing the police with a lead on the possible identity of the offender. In 2007-08, 17,614 crimes were detected in which a DNA match was available. They included 83 ‘homicides’, 184 rapes and a further 15,420 additional detections.

Between May 2001 and December 2005 approximately 200,000 DNA profiles held on the National DNA Database which would previously have had to be removed before legislation was passed in 2001 because the person was acquitted or charges dropped. This resulted in nearly 8,500 profiles from some 6,290 individuals being linked with crime scene profiles, involving nearly 14,000 offences. These included 114 murders, 55 attempted murders, 116 rapes, 68 sexual offences, 119 aggravated burglaries and 127 relating to the supply of controlled drugs.

A public consultation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. – Keeping the right people on the DNA database – includes plans to:

  • Destroy all DNA samples like mouth swabs, hair or blood as soon as they are converted into a profile
  • Automatically delete profiles of those arrested but not convicted of serious violent or sexual crimes after 12 years
  • Automatically delete profiles of those arrested but not convicted of all other crimes after six years
  • Retain indefinitely all DNA profiles and fingerprints of those convicted of a recordable offence
  • Remove profiles of young people arrested but not convicted or convicted for less serious offences as a teenager when they turn 18
  • Change the law to retrospectively add all serious violent and sexual criminals who were convicted before the DNA database was established, including those who are now back in the community
  • Change the law to allow the police to take DNA from those who were convicted of serious violent and sexual crimes abroad upon their return to the UK
  • Keep fingerprints for those arrested but not convicted of serious violent or sexual crimes for 12 years, and six years for all other crimes, before automatic deletion

As the Home Secretary announced last year, the rules for retaining DNA for those who have committed serious offences must be as tough as possible, but the approach should be flexible for others, including children. Immediately after the Home Secretary’s speech in December all profiles relating to children under 10 years were taken off the DNA database.

The database has provided a pioneering method not only for catching the guilty but also in proving innocence. It played an essential part in solving thousands of cases, including:

  • Finding Mark Dixie guilty of the murder of Sally Ann Bowman, an 18-year-old murdered close to her home in 2005
  • Convicting Steve Wright for the murder of five prostitutes in 2008
  • Linking Kensley Larrier to a rape in 2004 after his DNA was taken following his arrest for possessing a dangerous weapon two years earlier
  • Ruling out the prime suspect who confessed to the murder of one of two schoolgirls found dead. Pioneering work showed that semen samples taken from the girls did not match that suspect, but indicated that the cases were linked as the semen in both cases came from the same person, who in due course was identified as Colin Pitchfork who was jailed for life for the two murders.
  • Clearing Sean Hodgson of the death of a young woman after nearly 30 years in prison earlier this year.

The new proposals deliver a commitment by the Home Secretary to balance public protection from crime with the need to maintain the rights of the individual. Launching the public consultation, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:

'It is crucial that we do everything we can to protect the public by preventing crime and bringing offenders to justice. The DNA database plays a vital role in helping us do that and will help ensure that a great many criminals are behind bars where they belong... I have real sympathy for all those victims and victims’ families who have concerns that any move could undermine a system that helped trap murders and rapists, such as Sally Ann Bowman’s killer. These new proposals will ensure that the right people are on it, as well as considering where people should come off.'

'We will ensure that the most serious offenders are added to the database no matter when or where they were convicted. We also know that the database has provided matches for a significant number of serious crimes as well as providing thousands of matches for less serious crimes that cause great concern to victims, such as burglary, which is why we are proposing to keep some profiles for six years.'