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Two-thirds of DNA profile removal requests rejected by Kent Police

by political editor Paul Francis

Kent Police turned down nearly two-thirds of formal requests from people to have their DNA details removed from its database last year, according to figures obtained by the Conservatives.

Ashford MP Damian Green
Ashford MP Damian Green

According to a survey conducted by Ashford MP and shadow immigration minister Damian Green, Kent Police accepted requests from 13 of the 36 people who wanted their DNA profiles destroyed after being arrested but then released without charge.

While the force was not the worst offender when it came to dealing with formal requests - accepting more requests than London, Sussex and Hamshire - it agreed to far fewer applications than many.

Mr Green, who successfully managed to have his own DNA details removed by the Metropolitan Police after his arrest in 2008, said the survey showed "innocent people" faced a postcode lottery when it came to having their personal details deleted.

He warned public trust in the police could be affected.

"An alienated population seldom provides the tip-offs the police need to catch criminals. This has been a problem at times within some minority communities who regard the police as hostile. How much more difficult life would be for the police if this attitude became widespread," he said.

Since his own arrest and susbequent release without charge, he had received many letters from people who had not been as successful.

"Many of those who write to me are angry with the authorities and regard police with suspicion and fear. If this carries on, the police will find their job more difficult than ever because they cannot rely on the co-operation of the respectable majority."

Last year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled DNA details of innocent people could not be kept indefinitely. As a result, the Government announced new measures stating data could not be kept for longer than six years.

Mr Green said the Conservatives favoured the system in Scotland, where most people had their DNA details removed immediately unless there were special circumstances.

Kent Police issued a statement from the Association of Chief Police Officers saying it strongly supported efforts to bring greater clarity to police forces.

Chief Constable Chris Sims, ACPO lead on forensic science, said: "DNA is hugely important in many investigations, but the police service also believes it is vital that the DNA database remains reasonable and proportionate and retains the full confidence of the public."

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