National DNA Database

Home Department written statement – made on 5th December 2005.

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Photo of Andy Burnham Andy Burnham Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Home Office)

On transition of the Forensic Science Service (FSS) from Trading Fund status to GovCo the Government will retain control of the National DNA Database (NDNAD). It is recognised to be a world leading crime intelligence database, and a key national criminal justice asset.

The standard setting and oversight of the National DNA Database, ensuring quality and integrity of the service, will be carried out by a dedicated unit initially in the Home Office, overseen by a tripartite board composed of the Home Office, ACPO and APA. We propose to increase Human Genetics Commission representation at board meetings from one to two to strengthen lay representation. Following initial consultation regarding established bio-medical ethics committees, it has been determined that a new and dedicated ethics group is required to provide independent oversight of Board decision-making. Plans for the creation of this group are being developed with Department of Health support. These transitional arrangements have been developed to improve the strength and transparency of NDNAD oversight.

The operational delivery of database services—the loading of DNA profiles and the reporting of subsequent matches—will continue to be provided under contract by the FSS initially to ensure continuity of service to the police. The separation of operational service delivery from the governance and standard setting will enable value for money to be maximised, while the control of oversight within the public sector will be retained. Wider consultation will take place about the most effective long-term oversight of the National DNA Database and other national forensic databases, which should enhance public confidence in the safeguards and ethical controls which are being developed.