The UK Police National DNA Database

The UK’s DNA database was the first to be established, in 1995. Two changes in the law, made by the Blair Government in 2001 and 2003, led to a massive expansion to the database. DNA samples and records were collected routinely from everyone arrested for any recordable offence, from the age of ten, and retained indefinitely whether or not they were charged or convicted.

Scotland rejected plans to retain DNA records from innocent people indefinitely in 2006. Public opposition to keeping innocent people on the DNA database grew as more cases emerged of people falsely accused of minor offences who had their DNA stored.

The European Court of Human Rights ruled that the law in England and Wales breached the European Convention on Human Rights in December 2008 (in the case of S. and Marper v. the United Kingdom:

The UK’s Coalition Government adopted the Protection of Freedoms Act on 1st of May 2012.  The DNA profiles and fingerprints of more than a million innocent people have been removed from police databases and more than 6 million DNA samples have also been destroyed.





Press releases


GeneWatch PR: GeneWatch response to police DNA figures 23rd March 2011GeneWatch PR: Scientists and Royals both have responsibility for human rights 12th March 2011

GeneWatch, CRG and PI PR: Prince Andrew linked to Blair plan to DNA test whole population of UAE 11th March 2011

GeneWatch PR: Statement on One Show DNA case (12th January 2011) 12th January 2011

GeneWatch PR: Home secretary misleading public on DNA 9th April 2010

GeneWatch PR: Response to Government DNA proposals 11th November 2009

GeneWatch PR: Home Office drags its feet on DNA database removals (7th May 2009)

GeneWatch PR: Innocent urged to reclaim their DNA (27th April 2009)

GeneWatch PR: Response to police powers review 29th August 2008

GeneWatch PR: Reponse to HGC Citizens’ Inquiry on DNA 30th July 2008

GeneWatch PR: Response to PM’s ‘Security and Liberty’ speech 17th June 2008

GeneWatch PR: Response to MPs’ surveillance society report 8th June 2008

GeneWatch PR: GeneWatch response to the Nuffield report on forensic use of DNA 18th September 2007

GeneWatch PR: GeneWatch response to calls to expand the National DNA Database 5th September 2007

GeneWatch PR: GeneWatch welcomes citizens’ inquiry into police use of DNA2nd August 2007

GeneWatch PR: Stitch-up of DNA law in Northern Ireland will undermine trust in policing 1st June 2007

GeneWatch & ARCH PR: Over 100,000 innocent young people now on the National DNA Database 22nd May 2007

GeneWatch PR: Citizens or suspects? GeneWatch response to the launch of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics’ consultation on police use of DNA 1st November 2006

GeneWatch PR: Police DNA database out of control, concludes new GeneWatch investigation 16th July 2006

GeneWatch PR: GeneWatch UK response to Scottish Parliament’s vote on police retention of DNA. 25th May 2006

GeneWatch PR: GeneWatch response to new proposals for police retention of DNA in Scotland. 22nd May 2006

GeneWatch PR: Misleading benefits claimed for police retention of innocent people’s DNA, says new GeneWatch report 27th February 2006

GeneWatch PR: GeneWatch UK response to the Science and Technology Committee report ‘Forensic Science on Trial’ 29th March 2005

GeneWatch PR: Police DNA database needs stronger safeguards for privacy and human rights 12th January 2005


Reports and briefings

GeneWatch briefing: DNA database: analysis of offending figures 7th November 2011

GeneWatch briefing: DNA databases and human rights 12th January 2011

GeneWatch Parliamentary Briefing: Protection of Freedoms Bill: Lords’ Committee Stage 28th November 2011

GeneWatch Parliamentary Briefing: Protection of Freedoms Bill: 3rd Reading 7th October 2011

GeneWatch UK: Memorandum to the Protection of Freedoms Bill Committee

GeneWatch Parliamentary Briefing: Protection of Freedoms Bill 25th February 2011

GeneWatch UK submission to Home Affairs Committee: the National DNA Database 15th January 2010 

GeneWatch UK Parliamentary Briefing: Crime and Security Bill 15th January 2010

The DNA database: contacting your MP (October 2010)  

GeneWatch briefing: the DNA database: what next?  2nd July 2010

GeneWatch response to the Forensic Regulator’s consultation 22nd December 2008

Submission to the Home Office’s PACE consultation 1st December 2008

Submission to the Scottish Government’s DNA consultation 21st November 2008

Submission to the HGC’s DNA consultation 10th November 2008

DNA detections 1998-2008  10th November 2008

DNA detections by crime type  10th November 2008

GeneWatch UK supplementary evidence to the Constitution Committee 28th June 2008

GeneWatch briefing: Would 114 murderers have walked away?  27th June 2008

The National DNA Database: Q&A 22nd May 2008

Ten myths about the police National DNA Database  28th February 2008

GeneWatch UK submission to the Constitution Committee’s consultation on surveillance 14th June 2007

Briefing for the Northern Ireland Policing Board: Police Retention of DNA from Northern Ireland  1st June 2007

Parliamentary Questions: Forensic DNA (May 2007) 31st May 2007

GeneWatch UK submission to the Home Office consultation “Modernising Police Powers” 31st May 2007

Briefing: How many innocent children are being added to the National DNA Database? 22nd May 2007

GeneWatch UK submission to the Home Affairs Committee Inquiry “A surveillance society?” 26th April 2007

Briefing note for MPs, MSPs, AMs & MLAs. DNA: proposed expansions of powers26th March 2007

Briefing for Councillors and Police Authorities: Police retention of DNA  23rd February 2007

MPs’ Briefing: Human Genetics No.7 – The National DNA Database: an update  25th January 2007

GeneWatch UK submission to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics’ consultation on forensic use of bioinformation 9th January 2007

The Police National DNA Database Leaflet  14th December 2006

The Police National Database Card  14th December 2006

Submission to Home Office consultation on standard setting and quality regulation in forensic science 19th October 2006

MPs’ Briefing: Human Genetics No. 6 – The Police National DNA Database: an update  18th July 2006

Using the police National DNA Database – under adequate control? 18th July 2006

The DNA Expansion Programme: reporting real achievement?  27th February 2006

MSPs’ Briefing – Police Retention of DNA 9th February 2006

Briefing 31: THE POLICE NATIONAL DNA DATABASE: Human rights and privacy 1st June 2005

MPs’ Briefing: Human Genetics No. 5 – The Police DNA database: balancing crime detection and human rights  1st January 2005

The Police National DNA Database: Balancing Crime Detection, Human Rights and Privacy.  1st January 2005


The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (Commencement No. 7) Order 2013

The Guardian: Britain to keep European arrest warrant but try to reform it (8th July 2013)

The Independent: Police told to explain use of unregulated DNA database (9th June 2013)

The Guardian: Police retain DNA from thousands of children (20th May 2013)

BBC: Police swabbing of child DNA excessive, says charity (20th May 2013)

National DNA Database Annual Report: 2011-12

National DNA Database biennial report: 2009 to 2011

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Update on Protection of Freedoms Act implementation and National DNA Database annual reports 2009 to 2012 (20th May 2013)

Protection of Freedoms Act

National DNA Database statistics (23rd April 2013)

Home Office: Protection of Freedoms Act 2012: how DNA and fingerprint evidence is protected in law (4th April 2013)

GayStarNews: Police bosses tell cops: don’t target gays in DNA roundup (18th January 2013)

EADT24: Ipswich: Victory after man’s six-year battle to have DNA records removed from police records (18th January 2013) Outrage grows over gay DNA witchhunt (17th January 2013)

Daily Mail: Police demand DNA sample from former soldier because he had gay relationship in the Army 30 years ago (12th January 2013)

Daily Mail: EU demands access to details of all UK drivers: ‘Orwellian’ move to hand out personal information to foreign police forces (9th January 2013)

NDNAD Strategy Board minutes

Equality impact assessment of the National DNA Database (28th November 2012)

The Telegraph: Rapists feared still at large as police fail to update DNA database (23rd October 2012)

BBC: DNA rape sample procedures ‘not adequate’ (1st October 2012)

Littlehampton Gazette: Sussex Police collect ex-cons’ DNA for national database (1st October 2012)

The Guardian: Thousands of ex-offenders targeted in drive to add to DNA database (27th September 2012)

Manchester Evening News: Police order thousands of DNA samples from ex-convicts in Greater Manchester (18th September 2012)

ZDNet: London police ‘hack’ suspects’ phones: A major blow to human rights (18th May 2012)

The Independent: Privatisation is a catastrophe, warns godfather of forensics (2nd April 2012)

Daily Mail: DNA database in doubt after teenager spends three months behind bars for rape in city he has never even visited because gene samples were mixed up (13th March 2012)

The Guardian: Forensics blunder ‘may endanger convictions’ (8th March 2012)

The Economist: Ignorance is bliss (21st January 2012)

National DNA Database Annual Report 2006-07

New Scientist: DNA super-network increases risk of mix-ups (5th September 2011)

BBC Online: DNA and fingerprint guidelines ‘unlawful’ (18th May 2011)

The Independent: Guidelines on DNA samples unlawful (18th May 2011)

Public Service: Police DNA retention policy ‘unlawful’ (18th May 2011)

UK Human Rights blog: Retention of DNA breaches human right to privacy, says Supreme Court (18th May 2011)

The Guardian: DNA retention judgment won’t see discriminatory policy destroyed (18th May 2011)

The Register: Supreme Court: DNA database retention regs are unlawful (18th May 2011)

The Guardian: Police breaking law by keeping DNA of the innocent, supreme court rules (18th May 2011)

The Guardian: New DNA rules will restore public trust [Letter] (5th March 2011)

Public Service: Government store DNA of over 6 million (4th March 2011)

The Register: ICO evidence raises Freedoms Bill data worries (3rd March 2011)

BBC: How Protection of Freedoms Bill will work (1st March 2011)

ITN: Government to curb DNA database (1st March 2011)

The Voice: Innocent black Brits may get their DNA removed from database (22nd February 2011)

The Telegraph: The coalition’s Freedom Bill is a blow against the snoopers and clampers (15th February 2011) Freedoms Bill (13th February 2011)

BBC: DNA profiles to be deleted from police database (11th February 2011)

Daily Mail: DNA database purge: Victory for the Mail as records of 1m innocent people removed (11th February 2011)

The Telegraph: DNA of up to a million to be wiped under Freedom Bill (11th February 2011)

The Guardian: DNA profiles to be deleted from police database (11th February 2011)

Daily Express: At last, victory over Labour’s army of snoops (11th February 2011)

The Guardian: Criminal checks on people working with children to be eased (11th February 2011)

Independent: A victory for civil liberties – and a challenge for Labour (10th February 2011)

The Telegraph: Nick Clegg; we’re restoring hard won British liberties (10th February 2011)

The Independent: ID cards go up in flames in first step to tackle ‘database state’ (10th February 2010)

BBC: Deputy Prime Minister’s Reform Speech (19th May 2010)

Public Service: Government store DNA of over 6 million (4th March 2011)

New Scientist: Unreliable evidence? Time to open up DNA Databases (6th January 2010)

BBC Online: Innocent people face DNA database ‘shambles’ (31st December 2009)

Human Genetics Commission: Nothing to hide, nothing to fear? Balancing individual rights and the public interest in the governance and use of the National DNA Database (24th November 2009)

The Times: From schoolboy squabble to DNA database in one easy step – if you’re black (24th November 2009)

BBC Online: New safeguards urged over routine police DNA tests (24th November 2009)

The Daily Mail: DNA of innocents will be kept on database for six years (29th October 2009)

The Guardian: Innocent suspects’ profiles still reaching DNA database (28th October 2009)

The Times: Record number of DNA samples taken but crimes solved with them are down (22nd October 2009)

The Telegraph: Crimes solved by DNA drop by a fifth (22nd October 2009)

The National DNA Database Annual Report 2007-08

The Guardian: Detections using DNA database fall despite huge rise in profiles (21st October)

The Guardian: Home Office climbs down over keeping DNA records of innocent (19th October 2009)

The Telegraph: Tory MP Damian Green has DNA profile deleted from database (20th August 2009)

New York Times: DNA evidence can be fabricated, scientists show (17th August 2009)

The Voice: DNA database is damaging race relations, says expert (17th August 2009)

Daily Mail: 300 children a day added to DNA database (12th August 2009)

The Observer: ‘Racist bias’ blamed for disparity in police DNA database (9th August 2009)

The Guardian: Police told to ignore human rights ruling over database (7th August 2009)

The Telegraph: Equality watchdog warns DNA plans break law (7th August 2009)

The Telegraph: Police arrest innocent youths for the DNA, officer claims (4th June 2009)

Daily Mail: Driver thrown in police cell after DVLA office blunder (21st May 2009)

The Guardian: DPP’s verdict on papers leaked in Damian Green affair – Not a threat to security (17th April 2009)

The Guardian: DNA pioneer Alec Jeffreys: drop innocent from database (15th April 2009)

The Telegraph: Police will be banned from keeping DNA of innocent people, pledge Tories (6th April 2009) Tories promise to reform DNA database (6th April 2009)

The Crosby Herald: Teen arrested by police for handing in phone (2nd April 2009)

The Telegraph: Five million people now on database (31st March 2009)

Computing: DNA database grows by 38 per cent in two years (30th March 2009)

BBC Online: ‘DNA bungle’ haunts German police (28th March 2009)

BBC Politics Show: Time for a universal DNA database? (27th March 2009)

Wall Street Journal: Genes draw likenesses of suspects (27th March 2009)

BBC Politics Show: MP’s battle over DNA database (27th March 2009)

Bild (Germany): Phantom killer was a myth: Police track DNA of cotton bud maker for two years (26th March 2009)

The Plymouth Herald: I know how you feel, Mr Truman (26th March 2009)

The Independent: The Big Question: Are there illegal Government databases and what can we do about it? (24th March 2009)

The Daily Mail: As report condemns Government databases…Big Brother is wasting your billions (24th March 2009)

BBC Online: Call to scrap ‘illegal’ databases (23rd March 2009)

Rowntree Database State report (23rd March 2009)

The Guardian: Mark Thomas: How I got my genes deleted (19th March 2009)

The Guardian: Question Eight: DNA Database (16th March 2009)

The Telegraph: DNA of one-year-old baby stored on national database (10th March 2009)

The Register: Three months on, you still can’t get off the DNA Database (2nd March 2009)

The Guardian: Government plans to keep DNA samples of innocent (27th February 2009)

The Guardian: DNA details of 1.1m children on database (27th February 2009)

The Daily Mail: Banish Big Brother: The state’s surveillance powers must be curbed, say Lords (6th February 2009)

The Register: Don’t delay: Delete your DNA (17th December 2008)

Daily Mail: The EU’s Big Brother database poses a threat to our liberties (16th December 2008)

The Independent: A victory for civil liberties – but the larger war still rages (5th December 2008)

The Daily Mail: One million innocent people could have their profiles wiped from Britain’s ‘Orwellian’ DNA database after court ruling (5th December 2008)

BBC Online: Europe DNA ruling resonates in UK (4th December 2008)

The Telegraph: Campaigners welcome ruling that DNA-holding breaches human rights (4th December 2008)

Liverpool Daily Post: Police order child’s DNA to be removed from database (19th November 2008)

The Telegraph: More than one million added to the DNA database as children (17th November 2008)

The Telegraph: Crimes solved by DNA evidence fall despite millions being added to database (10th November 2008)

The Register: The DNA Database and You (6th November 2008)

Daily Post North Wales: One in 11 from North Wales on DNA file (30th October 2008) 30th October 2008

The Daily Mail: New law to allow police to collect DNA in secret from teacups (19th October 2008)

Christian Today: Black church leaders concerned over criminal DNA database (18th July 2008)

The Register: Gordo’s DNA database claims branded ‘ridiculous’ (29th June 2008)

The Telegraph: MPs must act now to set limits on snooping (9th June 2008)

Home Affairs Committee report: A Surveillance Society? (Vol II: Evidence)

Home Affairs Committee Report: A Surveillance Society? (Vol I)

Reuters: Watchdog criticises plan to share DNA data (15th May 2008)

The Guardian: The scandal of ‘criminalising’ mental health patients (12th May 2008)

The Telegraph: DNA bank solves one crime per 800 profiles (6th May 2008)

Washington Post: US to expand collection of crime suspects’ DNA (17th April 2008)

BBC Online: DNA technique ‘fit for purpose’ (11th April 2008)

The Sunday Mirror: 40,000 kids put on DNA crimes list (6th April 2008)

The Observer: Put young children on DNA list urge police (16th March 2008)

The Daily Mail: 1.5m children will have DNA taken next year amid claims of universal database ‘by stealth’ (9th March 2008)

Computing: Met police chief calls for European DNA database (5th March 2008)

Black Mental Health UK: Sarah Teather tells House of Commons DNA database discriminates (1st March 2008)

The Guardian: Mixed results (28th February)

New Statesman: Spare pairs of genes (28th February 2008)

The Times: CCTV and DNA advances add to bills but minister calls rises unacceptable (28th February 2008)

The Daily Mail: One in eight samples filed under innocent names in Government blunder (27th February 2008)

Public Technology: Home Office Minister rejects call for a national citizen DNA database (25th February 2008)

The Daily Mail: Police in retreat after public backlash over their demands for a DNA database (25th February 2008)

The Daily Mail; Home Office retreat from plans to extend ‘nation of suspects’ DNA database to include litterbugs (24th February 2008)

The Sunday Times: Should Britain have a compulsory DNA database? (24th February 2008)

The Glasgow Herald: Police: we must keep DNA of everyone arrested (23rd February 2008)

The Guardian: Calls for compulsory DNA database rejected (23rd February 2008)

The Guardian: Inquiry as Tories attack DNA failure (21st February 2008)

The Times: Gordon Brown admits assaults committed while DNA data disc lost (20th February 2008)

The Times: Disc listing foreign criminals lost for a year (20th February 2008)

The Guardian: Stop! Armed police! Put down your MP3 player (13th February 2008)

BBC Online: Clegg attacks surveillance UK (6th February 2008)

The Register: How to delete your DNA Profile (7th January 2008)

Daily Mail: Big Brother UK: Police now hold DNA ‘fingerprints’ of 4.5 million Britons (5th November 2007)

The Telegraph: Police retain DNA of ‘petty crime suspects’ (5th November 2007)

The Times: Police told to erase ‘irrelevant’ crime records (1st November 2007)

The Times: Policing the gene pool (29th Sept 2007)

The Economist: Learning to live with Big Brother (27th Sept 2007)

Nature: Genome abuse (26th Sept 2007)

The Times: DNA database ‘puts innocent under suspicion’ (18th Sept 2007)

The Register: Innocent ‘terror techie’ purges DNA records (17th Sept 2007)

The Times: Inside the world where experts try to unlock DNA clues (15th Sept 2007)

Evening Standard: Outrage as DNA profile of seven-month old baby is added to DNA database (15th Sept 2007)

Daily Mail: Innocent people’s DNA ‘must not be kept on national database’ (10th Sept 2007)

Computer Weekly: DNA plan would require SAN the size of Belgium (11th Sept 2007)

The Scotsman: Judge opens hornets’ nest with call for everyone’s DNA to go on record (6th Sept 2007)

BBC Online: All UK ‘must be on DNA database’ (5th Sept 2007)

Evening Standard: Ministers accused of trying to build DNA database by stealth (5th Sept 2007)

BBc Online: DNA database call prompts concern (5th Sept 2007)

Evening Standard: Speeding drivers face DNA swabs under Big Brother powers (1st August 2007)

The Times: Police want DNA from speeding drivers and litterbugs on database (2nd August 2007)

The Telegraph: Litter lout DNA samples a step too far (2nd August 2007)

The Independent: Police DNA database ‘risks criminalising non-offenders’ (2nd August 2007)

Daily Mail: Government accused on DNA samples (2nd August 2007)

The Guardian: Police may be given powers to take DNA samples on the street (2nd August 2007)

The Observer: Civil rights fears over DNA for everyone (27th May 2007)

The National DNA Database Annual Report 2005/06

Daily Mail: Police put 100,000 innocent children on DNA Database (23rd May 2007)

The Telegraph: DNA file on 100,000 innocent children

The Guardian: ‘Orwellian’ CCTV in shires alarms senior police officer (21st May 2001)

The Guardian: Plan to identify potential offenders condemned (21st May)

The Telegraph: DNA police revisit high profile murder cases (19th May 2007)

The Independent: DNA database blunder ‘could have resulted in 200 crimes’ (18th May 2007)

The Argus: Youths warned not to use fake ID (17th May 2007)

The Northern Echo: Peer calls for babies’ DNA to be stored

BBC Online: DNA failings ‘missed 183 crimes’ (17th May 2007)

The Guardian: A database of prejudice (15th May 2007)

EDP-24 (Norfolk): Car crime victims must foot the bill (10th May 2007)

Daily Mail: Fears over innocent Britons’ DNA being given to European police forces (9th May)

Black Information Link: Chained by our genes (3rd May 2007)

Computer World: EU police data-sharing plan draws criticism (19th April 2007)

Mail on Sunday: Five civil servants suspended over ‘DNA espionage’ (1st April 2007)

Yorkshire Post: Yorkshire cases to test DNA sampling policy (31st March 2007)

The Guardian: Every child to be screened for risk of turning criminal under Blair justice plan (28th March 2007)

BBC Online: ‘Retail jails’ could ease police burden (15th March 2007)

The Telegraph: DNA data deal ‘will create big brother Europe’ (18th February 2007)

The Voice: Mayor urged to support DNA profiling curb (9th February 2007)

The Sunday Times: Reid ‘buries’ news that police hold DNA of 1m innocent people (17th December 2006)

The Independent: DNA of suspects’ families to be held on police files (26th November 2006)

The Telegraph: Three in four young black men on the DNA database (5th November 2006)

BBC Online: Fear that DNA use ‘gone too far’ (1st November 2006)

The Observer: Police DNA database is ‘spiraling out of control’ by Antony Barnett (16th July 2006)

The National DNA Database Annual Report 2004/05

Forensic DNA Databasing: A European Perspective – A report from Durham University (June 2005)

The Independent: More Britons have DNA held by police than rest of world (14th April 2006)

The National DNA Database Annual Report 2004/05

Home Office Circular: Charges on Basis of Speculative Search Match on the National DNA Database (September 2004)

The Telegraph: Huge rise in juvenile DNA samples kept by the police

The Guardian: DNA of 37% of black men held by police

The Telegraph: Freedom fears as the DNA database expands

DNA Expansion Programme 2000�2005: Reporting achievement

Website of the Scottish Executive

The Scotsman article: Keep DNA of innocent and guilty alike

The Voice: 1 in 3 black men are DNA profiled

New Scientist: Will DNA profiling fuel prejudice?

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s report on forensics, 2005 (main report)

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s report on forensics, 2005 (evidence)

BBC Online: DNA database Big Brother warning

The National DNA Database Annual Report 2003/04

Genetic Information and Crime Investigation – an academic report

The National DNA Database Annual Report 2002/03


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