THOUSANDS of innocent children and young people’s DNA is being held in police databases, the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Barney McNeany, said today.

3 August 2006 News

The Commissioner said he is concerned that up to 3,000 under-18s have their DNA held in PSNI databases and that many of these children and young people have not been charged with offences, or have been found not guilty of offences.

“We have a number of cases where the young person and their family have been distressed by being told their DNA is being held, despite the fact they have not been charged or found guilty,” said Mr McNeany.

“Recent cases have been highlighted in the media both here in Northern Ireland and across the UK.”

The Commissioner said he has raised the issue with the PSNI and the Policing Board.

“I have written to the Chief Constable, Sir Hugh Orde and the Chairman of the Policing Board, asking for the retention of DNA of under-18s to be reconsidered,” said Mr McNeany.

“Obviously we would not object to DNA being taken and held if a young person has committed and been found guilty of a serious offence.

“But for children who are innocent of any crime we cannot see the need to retain their DNA records.”

The Commissioner said that he believes the holding of under-18s DNA may breach Articles 16 and 40 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child where there is no conviction.

Notes for Editors

· In Scotland DNA can only be retained for three years and only in cases of violent and sexual offences. An application has to be made to court to hold it for longer