Business Questions – DNA Database

Posted on June 14th, 2011 in Parliamentary News

Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): Of course I have the greatest respect for my right hon. and learned Friend’s views on the legal matters concerning the DNA database and I welcome the Government’s decision to remove the names of some innocent people from it. However, that is not an adequate response to the judgment of the court, which found specifically that the Government were acting unlawfully. The database is growing at the rate of 15,000 names a week, and it is now the largest in the world. May we have a statement or a debate on the issue or, at the least, an extra day to discuss it during consideration of the Policing and Crime Bill? An extra day will not add greatly to the burden of the Government, but will provide us with an opportunity to explain why their position is wrong.

Ms Harman: As I understand it, the issue is not included in the Policing and Crime Bill as it is to do with earlier legislation. The court case to which my right hon. Friend refers deals with the question of what is proportionate and what individuals should have to be prepared to tolerate in the interests of justice and protecting future victims. In the case of Kensley Larrier, it was proportionate to keep his DNA on the database after he was arrested for possessing a weapon. The proceedings were discontinued in 2002, but his DNA was kept and, after a rape many years later, it was available and he could be sent to prison. The database provides a major opportunity to bring rapists to justice that previously was not available. All those who argue against the DNA database have to answer to the victims of repeat offences, and we are not prepared to fail to use that tool as a weapon in the fight against rape.