New Standards set for DNA profiling and RIPA

New common sense standards for use of investigatory powers and retention of DNA profiles were set out by the Home Secretary today.

Jacqui Smith outlined ways to strengthen how the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) is used by public authorities and how and when DNA profiles are retained on the national database in a keynote speech about protecting people while protecting their rights.

Speaking to members of the technology industry at the Intellect trade association the Home Secretary announced a consultation on the use of RIPA that will examine:

* a revision of the Codes of Practice that come under RIPA;

* which public authorities can use RIPA powers; and

* how those powers are authorised, and who authorises their use.

She also announced that there will be a consultation on proposed changes to RIPA powers to bring them in line with tests of safeguards, openness, proportionality and common sense.

In a wide-ranging speech on the rights of privacy in light of changing and expanding technology, the Home Secretary said the Government has to think carefully about how long to retain DNA evidence. She said the Government will bring forward proposals for consultation on retention arrangements for DNA samples in a Forensics White Paper next year including:

* varying the timescale of detaining DNA evidence depending on the seriousness of the offence and possibly the age and risk of the individual;

* re-examining the retention arrangements for DNA samples;

* ensuring police can retrospectively take samples for a longer period after conviction and from those convicted overseas.

In addition the Home Secretary announced that the Government will take immediate steps to take the DNA of children under 10 – the age of responsibility – off the database.

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