Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Protection of Freedoms Bill

Part of Resource Extraction (Transparency and Reporting) – in the House of Commons at 5:37 pm on 1st March 2011.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Theresa May Theresa May Minister for Women and Equalities, The Secretary of State for the Home Department 5:37 pm, 1st March 2011

My hon. Friend is right, I am afraid; but I almost said I was happy to give way to him. I am not going to rehearse all the arguments we have had on the issue he raises. I am well aware of the vote in the House on the Backbench Business Committee motion on prisoner votes, and the Government have made it absolutely clear that we are not happy about having to give prisoners votes and we will be looking to do so in the most minimal way possible.

The first issue the Bill addresses is DNA. The police national DNA database, established in 1995, has led to a great many criminals being convicted who otherwise would not have been caught, and I am sure all sensible people support it, but in a democracy there must be limits to any such form of police power, and we simply do not accept that innocent people’s DNA should be kept for ever on a database, as the last Government seemed to think was appropriate. Storing indefinitely the DNA and fingerprints of more than 1 million innocent people undermines public trust in policing and goes against any sense of natural justice, so we will be taking innocent people off the DNA database and putting guilty people on.

The Bill introduces a new regime, whereby retention periods depend on a number of different factors, including the age of the individual concerned, the seriousness of the offence or alleged offence, whether they have been convicted, and, for under-18s, whether it is a first conviction. So in future, as now, an adult who is convicted or cautioned will have their fingerprints and DNA profile retained indefinitely, and we will take steps to plug the inexcusable gaps in the DNA database where the profiles of those who have previously been convicted of a serious offence are not currently included on the database.