As at the end of January 1997, the national DNA database held more than 112,000 profiles taken from suspected or convicted persons and more than 9,000 crime scene stain profiles and there had been more than 2,000 matches between suspects and scenes of crime.
Does my right hon. and learned Friend agree that DNA testing is an important tool in our armoury to fight crimes against individuals? Does he also agree that its vital importance was shown in one famous case where a 78-year-old lady had been raped by a drug addict and, thanks to DNA testing, the suspect's alibi was put aside, with the result that he was convicted and is now serving 10 years in prison? Will my right hon. and learned Friend ensure that DNA testing gets the full backing that it deserves, along with all those other tools that we are currently using, such as closed circuit television and ensuring that there are more police on the beat?
I certainly will. I congratulate my hon. Friend on the Criminal Evidence (Amendment) Bill, which he is guiding through the House and which will enable the DNA profiles of about 7,750 serious sexual or violent offenders and those who commit burglaries with convictions prior to April 1995 who are still in custody to be added to the database. That will increase the protection available to my hon. Friend's constituents in Ribble Valley and to others throughout the country.
I cannot give an immediate answer to that question, but I am perfectly prepared to let the hon. Gentleman have it. [Interruption.] The hon. Member for Knowsley, North (Mr. Howarth) laughs from the Opposition Front Bench as though that would invalidate the tremendous success of the DNA database, illustrating yet again the frivolity of the Labour party's attitude to these important issues. The DNA database is a tremendous success: it is the first national DNA database in the world and it is likely, in the fulness of time, to revolutionise the way in which the police can tackle crime and protect the public. Yet all that Members on the Labour Front Bench can do is giggle.