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Cambridge Liberal Democrats

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Julian Huppert MP
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"DATABASE MANIA MUST STOP" - HOWARTH

February 28, 2008 5:46 PM

David Howarth, Lib Dem MP for Cambridge, welcomed the rejection by the Home Office of a national DNA database.

This decision is the result of a year long consultation launched by the Government. The consultation examined a plan to expand the police DNA database so that people arrested for even petty crimes would be compelled to provide samples. This would include the most minor offences such as dropping litter or speeding.

Commenting on these threats to civil liberties, David Howarth MP said:

"I am relieved to see the DNA database project was rejected. This project is a blatant infringement on civil liberties and people are rightfully shocked that it was even considered.

"Not only would this database dramatically expand the government's stranglehold on our privacy, but it would also harm criminal investigations by slowing down the matching process and increasing the risk of error.

"The estimated cost of the database is close to £200 million per year. With 32 millions overseas visitors per year, the figure goes up to £1 billion per year. There are many better ways to spend millions of pounds to effectively prevent crime and catch criminals than wasting taxpayers' money like this.

"This database mania must stop now. The Government doesn't seem to understand that people strongly oppose Big Brother societies which can track people down through ID cards or DNA databases. We do not want nor should we be forced to give up our privacy through ID cards or DNA samples."

ENDS

Notes to Editors

1. David Howarth is an active supporter of the NO2ID campaign which calls for the scrapping of the ID card scheme.

2. The DNA database, which covers England and Wales, currently contains around 4.5m profiles routinely taken from criminal suspects after most arrests. It is already the largest of its kind in the world.

3. The European Court of Human Rights is to begin deliberations about the legality of keeping the DNA profiles of individuals who have been charged but not convicted of a serious offence in Britain. If the court decides that this practice contravenes a person's human rights, then up to half a million DNA profiles might have to be removed.