Criminal Justice Bill
Baroness Scotland of Asthal (Minister of State, Home Office; Labour)
My Lords, I very much understand why my noble friend made those comments. We would say that the barcode is not enough. I understand too the fear she expressed that the samples would be used for some nefarious purpose, and she talked about a propensity for crime. I make it absolutely clear that that is outwith anything within the Government's contemplation. The noble Baroness will know that the barcode really is not enough because we need to allow for retesting and, with technology moving on, to upgrade old samples.
When we previously debated this issue, I referred to a case that was solved after 20 years because a sample had been taken and retained at the beginning of the use of this technology. Of course 20 years ago it would not have been possible to identify the person because the technology had not evolved to such a stage to make that possible. But, because the sample existed, one was able to use it for identification purposes, which could properly be used just because the technology had been proved. So it was not an improper purpose; it was a proper purpose. The sample enabled someone to be identified. He had committed a minor offence, such as shoplifting a very small item. The person was identified as having committed a number of very serious rape offences many years before. We were able to bring that person to justice because the sample had been retained.
We have clearly thought about how these powers should be used. I reassure the House that the provision is for that purpose alone. I note what my noble friend has said, but I am very happy to be able to lay that matter to rest. That is not the Government's intent. I recognise the anxieties there would be about that if it were.