DNA snatched from children in Camden
04 June 2009
TEENAGERS with no criminal record are being arrested so that their DNA can be stored in case they commit future crimes, a police officer has admitted.
An investigation by the Ham&High into how Camden police take DNA from under 18s led to the admission from the officer, who asked not to be named. He says police acting on intelligence will target only known troublemakers they believe are heading for a life of crime.
His comments come as an FOI request revealed how 386 under 18s had their DNA taken and stored by police last year - more than one a day.
The police were not able to say how many of these arrests led to charges but the officer's comments suggest the DNA collection will be used to build a database of likely future offenders.
The officer said: "It is part of a long term crime prevention strategy. We are often told that we have just one chance to get that DNA sample and if we miss it that might mean a rape or a murder goes unsolved in the future.
"Have we got targets for young people who have not been arrested yet? The answer is yes. But we are not just waiting outside schools to pick them up, we are acting on intelligence. If you know you have had your DNA taken and it is on a database then you will think twice about committing burglary for a living."
Already this year 169 under-18s have had their profiles uploaded.
Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Holborn and St Pancras Jo Shaw obtained the figures. She said: "Storing the DNA of innocent people as young as 10 is unlikely to solve Camden's crime problems, but is a really costly way of stigmatising young people. If you're innocent, you shouldn't have your data kept for years."
DNA samples, which are taken by police after an arrest is made, are turned into a number known as a profile, which is kept on a national database indefinitely.
Ch Insp Sean Wilson from Camden Police said: "The DNA database is a nationwide one. Legislation governing the recording and retention of DNA is fully adhered to by Camden Police."
In response to criticism of the DNA system the government is now proposing that youngsters who have only been arrested once for minor offences and been acquitted will have their DNA profiles destroyed once they reach the age of 18.