Barcoding Our Children

Mick Meaney


Thousands of children have been added to the British National DNA Database over the last two years, an investigation has found.

DNA swabs were taken by the West Midlands Police from  almost 6,000 children, aged as young as 10, over a two year period.

The figures obtained by the Birmingham Post under the Freedom of Information Act, show a total of  5,785 swabs taken. The report goes on to say:

3,349 youths between the ages of 10 and 17 were swabbed in 2010 and 2,436 in 2011,


In 2010 and 2011, 35 were taken from ten-year-olds, 137 from 11-year-olds, 284 from 12-year-olds, 627 from 13-year-olds, 957 from 14-year-olds, 1,212 from 15-year-olds, 1,273 from 16-year-olds and 1,260 from 17-year-olds.

Dr Helen Wallace, the director of GeneWatch UK – a non-profit group which calls for stronger safeguards said:

“The figures suggest that the police are still taking swabs from very young children when this information is not likely to be necessary.

“We are not opposed to DNA being collected when it is genuinely to stop crime but I think a lot of people would think these numbers are excessive. The current policy is to take DNA routinely on arrest. However, there is a law coming in to remove innocent people from the DNA database so in effect it is being done for no reason at times. There is a question over whether this is a good use of public money.”

DNA can be held on the Police National Database, regardless of conviction, until the suspect is 100 years old.

However, the cataloging and profiling of children is nothing new.

In November last year, it emerged that 8 million children had been placed on a secret database without parental knowledge or consent.

Although not biometric, the database includes the child’s age, sex, academic records and photograph. The information stored is also available to anyone working with children, including the police.

In 2005 it was revealed that 5.23% of the UK population had been added to the National DNA Database and then Prime Minister, war criminal Tony Blair, said he wanted the details of everyone in the UK to be held on it.

It certainly looks like he’s getting his wish, as the surveillance state has continued to expand each year.

2007 saw the biometric profiling of children in schools without Government guidance or parental consent.

In 2008 it was reported that Police want to routinely put children as young as 5 on the National DNA Database, even if no crime has been committed.

In 2009 The Guardian discovered that the details of  1.1 million children had been stored on the National DNA Database.

By 2012 over 900,000 new people had been added to the Police Database over the previous 3 years, bringing the total number of profiles  to over 6 million, creating the largest DNA database in the world. Many of the people held on it are innocent.

The profiling of children, who can do little to protect themselves, is clearly part of a mass surveillance agenda – the full implications of which will not be seen for another 10 – 15 years, when a large percentage of adults have been cataloged and it is considered ‘the norm’.