This morning, the news media are reporting a startling recommendation by one of the UK's most senior judges: that the Police National DNA Database (NDNAD) should cover every citizen in the UK, and every person who visits the UK. You can listen to Lord Justice Sedley talking with the Information Commissioner on the BBC's Today programme here.
Bioinformation can reveal extremely private information about an individual’s family relationships and physical health. As we wrote in our submission to the Nuffield Council of Bioethics consultation on the forensic use of bioinformation, the Open Rights Group opposes the DNA sampling of the entire population, and can see no circumstances under which it should be considered.
However, Lord Justice Sedley's recommendation does highlight the urgent need to address the regulations governing the NDNAD. Currently, DNA records of innocent people, including thousands of children, are kept indefinitely. There is no clear process for getting your DNA records off the database once you have given them to police, even if you only did so as a witness to a crime. Ethnic minorities and young males are disproportionately represented on the database, which is already the largest of its kind in the world. Lord Justice Sedley is right to call the current state of the NDNAD "indefensible".
If you want to find out more about the NDNAD, visit Genewatch UK's excellent information and action page, which has lots of suggestions about how to get your voice heard on this issue, as well as information about how to get your records off the database.