POLICE in Wales have taken DNA samples from more than 55,000 innocent people, we can reveal.
Almost half of these – an estimated 23,651 – were taken by South Wales Police alone, costing the force a whopping £1.5m.
In total, the nation’s four police forces have spent an estimated £3.4m in gathering DNA samples from innocent people.
But, while the Government estimates that one in five people on the national DNA database are innocent of any crime, they have admitted they have NO IDEA what the real amount could be.
Since 2001, police have taken DNA samples from anyone they arrest or caution, even if no charges are brought against them. Current law allows an innocent person’s DNA profile to be kept for up to 12 years.
With an estimated 4.5 million profiles, the DNA database for England and Wales is the largest in the world, and includes adults and children as young as 10 who have been accused of such crimes as:
n Taking a bicycle without consent;
n Failing to provide a breath specimen;
n Taking part in an illegal demonstration;
n Being drunk in a public place.
Human rights campaigners Liberty called for the database to simply hold details of sexual and violent offenders, which would save millions of pounds of public money.
Liberty’s legal officer, Anna Fairclough, told Wales on Sunday: “The Government is fond of justifying its retention of innocents’ DNA with the trite phrase: ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’. Those affected do not agree. They have done no wrong and they deeply resent their DNA profiles being held alongside those of murderers and rapists.”
The figures for Wales were revealed in parliamentary questions put forward by Jenny Willott, the Lib Dem MP for Cardiff Central, over a space of two years.
They reveal a massive database with DNA profiles belonging to 268,853 people in Wales, 55,922 of whom are estimated to be innocent.
In North Wales, 12,014 innocent people’s profiles were gathered by police, while Gwent collected 10,382 and Dyfed Powys took 9,875.
Ms Willott will lead a Welsh Liberal Democrat campaign to call on the chief constables of each Welsh police force to allow innocent people to have their DNA profile deleted.