DNA rules keep retention levels low

SNP MSP Nigel Don
today said he is encouraged by figures showing the retention of DNA on
the Scottish DNA database from under 18s is far lower than in England
and Wales.

The European Court
recently ruled that the system operated by the UK Government was a
breach of human rights and praised the Scottish system as the model for
other administrations to follow.

In England and
Wales samples are held from 320,841 under 18s or 3% of the whole under
18 population.  In contrast only 1167 samples of under 18s, equal to
0.1% of all Scotland’s young people are held in Scotland.

As the figures,
released in a Parliamentary Answer show DNA in Scotland can only be
held for those awaiting trial on an imprisonable offence and can only
be retained if the individual is convicted or for up to two years in
the cases of those charged with violent or sexual offences if not
convicted.

Justice Committee
member Nigel Don said the fact Scotland had a far lower proportion of
DNA retained from young people was a sign the Scottish system was
protecting the public and protecting civil liberties.

Mr Don said;

“These figures show
that Scotland’s system of DNA retention is working to protect human
rights and to ensure we are able to track those responsible for crimes
in our society.

“In contrast the
figures for England and Wales expose the real problems of Labour’s
approach to criminal justice and emphasise Scotland’s success in
finding the right balance between protecting the public from crime and
protecting their human rights.

“Being able to
identify violent offenders is important but a database containing the
details of those who were children when they offended removes any
prospect of real rehabilitation or recovery.

“Issues of DNA
retention must be kept under regular review, though these figures show
the Scottish system is working well to retain DNA only where it is
appropriate.”