Britain bowed to a court ruling and promised to remove the DNA records of hundreds of thousands of unconvicted people from its vast national database of genetic information, the Associated Press reports. People arrested on suspicion of a vast range of minor offenses, from shoplifting to public drunkenness, will have their DNA profiles held for six years even if they are not charged. “People in Britain should be innocent until proven guilty,” said Chris Grayling of the opposition Conservatives.
Britain maintains one of the world’s largest national DNA databases, which was set up in 1995 and now holds genetic profiles of more than 5 million people – 8 percent of the country’s population. The FBI’s national U.S. database has information on about 0.5 percent of Americans. In the U.S., laws on collecting DNA samples vary from state to state – some collect samples from people who are arrested, others only from those convicted. If a person is arrested but not convicted, they can ask to be removed from the U.S. database. FBI spokeswoman Ann Todd said the agency had never been asked to delete a sample, which contains almost 7 million DNA profiles.