National Dna Database

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:43 pm on 29th February 2008.

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Photo of Meg Hillier Meg Hillier Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office) (Identity) 2:43 pm, 29th February 2008

I congratulate Sarah Teather on raising this important issue. It is an issue that the Government take very seriously. As an MP representing a constituency not unlike her own, I share many of the concerns that she has raised about the over-representation of black people, particularly young black men, on the DNA database, and in the criminal justice system in general. I know that other colleagues of mine have raised this issue on several occasions.

We share a concern, but I should like to outline why we differ on how to deal with that concern. I agree with the hon. Lady's comment that the DNA database is symptomatic of the current criminal justice system, but I disagree that it is causative. I think that we can find room for agreement, however, in that we want a fair, transparent and proportional approach to the tackling of crime and the use of the database.

The hon. Lady also mentioned research data. Just to make one factual point before coming to the main thrust of my arguments, I can reassure her that research data are used only in an anonymised form that is strictly governed by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Data can be used only for the purposes of prevention, detection and investigation, and not in a way that would ever identify any of the individuals involved.