Genetics: Databases

Home Department written question – answered on 10th July 2007.

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Photo of Nick Clegg Nick Clegg Shadow Secretary of State (Home Office)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many profiles were loaded onto the national DNA database in each quarter of each of the last five years.

Photo of Jacqui Smith Jacqui Smith Home Secretary

The number of profiles added to the National DNA Database (NDNAD) for each quarter of the last five years is set out in the following table . It is currently estimated that 13.7 per cent. of profiles held on the NDNAD are replicates, i.e. that a profile for a person has been loaded on more than one occasion (one reason for this is that the person gave different names, or different versions of their name, on separate arrests). Thus, the number of individuals on the database is approximately 13.7 per cent. less than the number of subject profiles. The presence of these replicate profiles on the NDNAD does not impact on the effectiveness and integrity of the database. Nonetheless, a long-term exercise is under way to identify issues associated with the removal of all such redundant replicate profiles.

Number of profiles added
First quarter Second quarter Third quarter Fourth quarter
2002-03 127,915 125,899 113,383 121,322
2003-04 110,049 120,337 106,326 138,585
2004-05 112,209 124,276 145,672 138,961
2005-06 156,685 169,133 184,936 204,391
2006-07 175,598 209,495 171,807 165,564
2007-08 154,496

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Gordon Morris
Posted on 16 Jul 2007 1:42 pm (Report this annotation)

These figures are very worrying. What is being done to monitor this collection in order to ensure that civil liberties are not eroded. Also, what happens to the information kept about people who turn out to be innocent? I think we should be told.

Gordon Morris

Panda Mery
Posted on 17 Jul 2007 1:16 am (Report this annotation)

We are told. The information - both the DNA sample and the DNA profile - is kept forever. (

Last year only 115 profiles were removed when 667,737 were added -

(Some further DNA related data condensed at

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Mark Bestford
Posted on 17 Jul 2007 9:36 am (Report this annotation)

I believe the DNA readings of anyone found innocent remains on file.

This is actually quite a difficult question to answer.

On the one hand you have the issue of civil liberties. Does the govt have the right to keep dna profiles of innocent people?

However, there is another side to this debate. Since the creation of the dna database several high profile crimes have been solved due to familial links. By which I mean a close relative of a criminal has been added to the database which has then provided enough information for the police to trace the suspect through their family. We're not talking petty crime here either, but high profile rape and murder cases that have lain dormant for years due to lack of leads.

So the dna database can actually be used to very good effect. What must never be allowed to happen though is any commercial interest gaining access to the database. What we don't want is genetic profiling of the population for healthcare or insurance reasons.

Panda Mery
Posted on 17 Jul 2007 8:53 pm (Report this annotation)

The DNA samples are kept by private companies on behalf of the Police forces... and there are already been some instances of misuse of this data:[cid]=492860&a...

(Genewatch has done some really good work and it's worth browsing around its website.)

For more background on the issues involved check out some of the submissions to the Nuffield Council on Bioethics consultation:
Genewatch -
Justice -
Genewatch -
And mine -

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Mark Bestford
Posted on 18 Jul 2007 12:24 am (Report this annotation)


So that's where they got the idea from.

Excellent find David. I was aware that someone had posited the idea of using dna to try and work out possible nationality of illegal immigrants, but wasn't aware that they had actually used the police dna database already in part of their research. That is quite clearly a breach of trust on the part of the Home Office.

It's also a waste of time. Someone comes to Britain illegally and refuses to state where they are from. DNA analysis shows them to be of Middle Eastern origins. However, that only tells you where their ancestors come from. Their parents may be 3rd generation immigrants living in America. It's also getting dangerously close to gene stereotyping. Films like Vanilla Sky and Gattaca may be science fiction but we're already dangerously close to making lots of science fiction present day fact. You only have to read 1984 to see the parallels with today's modern Britain.

Panda Mery
Posted on 30 Aug 2007 1:56 am (Report this annotation)

Just noticed that 13.7 pc of replicates would mean failure to realise the DNA profile of the individual (whatever his/her name) is already loaded on the database when checking the fresh DNA sample! I just commented on this at

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