Home Office allowing private companies access to the DNA database

2008 Gorffenaf 29 12:00 AM

The Home office has been allowing private companies access to the DNA database for commercial reasons, according to a Freedom of Information request by Jenny Willott, Welsh Liberal Democrat MP for Cardiff Central.

The information reveals that:

• Up to May of this year, the Home Office approved 25 applications for research projects using DNA profiles from the DNA database.

• 5 are from private companies - Three from LGC and two from Orchid Cellmark.

• In some of the research projects, full details are not disclosed because of FOI s43. This allows companies to not give details because it would harm their commercial interests.

• No one whose DNA is being used in these projects has given their consent.

• Innocent people are on the database, and their DNA will have been included in the research.

• The police, many of whose officers have added themselves to the DNA database voluntarily, rejected a request for their DNA samples to be used in a research project.

Commenting, Jenny Willott MP said:

"For nearly a decade, the Home Office has been secretly approving controversial research projects using profiles from the DNA database.

"No consent was ever sought from the people involved, many of whom have never been charged or convicted of any offence.

"It is outrageous that people's DNA has on five occasions been passed to private companies to pursue their own commercial interests.

"The 25 projects that have been approved by ministers include some sinister explorations into ethnic profiling.

"It is appalling that these Big Brother practices have been allowed to go on unchecked for so long and with extremely limited ethical standards.

"Unless the Government comes clean about exactly what they are using profiles for, this highly dubious ethical practice of dishing DNA out for research must be suspended immediately."

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