UK DNA database errors raise concerns
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The largest DNA database in the world covering details on about 4.5 million people including information on every person arrested, convicted or not, and on 900 000 children raises questions as inaccuracies and administrative errors have been found in its records.
Incorrect dates, spelling mistakes and duplications have been found by Data Quality and Integrity Team of the DNA database unit. These mistakes can lead to innocent people being accused of crimes and wrongly arrested. Information added to incorrect profiles has also obliged the police to erase affected records.
The DNA Database Unit had also admitted in a report in May 2007 that between 1995 and 2005 it failed to load 26 200 records to the DNA database because of errors, which resulted in 183 undetected crimes.
In August 2007 statistics released by the Home Office were showing around 550 000 files with wrongly recorded or miss spelt names. This created big concerns among civil rights groups. Shami Chakrabarti, the director of civil rights group Liberty, considered it was already bad that the database included innocent people which had never been charged, many children and a large percentage of ethnic minorities. "Now it turns out we don't know the accuracy of the data. How many Postman Pats and Donald Ducks have entries on a system worthy of the Keystone Cops?" she commented.
A spokesman from the National Policing Improvement Agency stated that most of these errors have been corrected but admitted errors are still possible. "Between January and November 1,450 demographic discrepancies have been discovered and rectified. Some of these are spelling errors, date taken amendments and Force code amendments (...) The Custodian Accreditation Service has identified and logged 111 unexpected results - possible errors - for the financial year 2006/07 that have resulted in the deletion of a profile or an amendment to the profile."
John Hemming, the Liberal Democrat MP for Birmingham Yardley and an Internet entrepreneur who is investigating the reasons of the occurrence of so many errors stated: "It is important that people recognise Government databases are not necessarily 100 per cent accurate (...) It is quite clear you can't trust the Government with your personal information. They need to massively tighten up the way they deal with these issues."
Innocents fear DNA database errors (26.11.2007)
Outrage at 500,000 DNA database mistakes (27.08.2007)
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