The Data Protection Act 1998 gives persons who are the subject of personal data ('data subjects') a general right of access to personal data which relates to them. This is known as Subject Access. It therefore gives a general right to individuals to find out what data is held about them on the National DNA Database, including a copy of their DNA profile as a series of digits and letters.
How can I find out if I am on the DNA database?
If you wish to find out if your DNA profile is held on the NDNAD, you will need to make a Subject Access request to the Police Force which took your DNA sample. Some Police Force websites have information on how to make a Subject Access request, how to submit the request and give contact point for any enquiries.
On receipt of a Subject Access request, the Police Force will first check your identity and then contact the National DNA Database Manager to confirm whether your profile is on the database. If a DNA profile is held on the NDNAD, the National DNA Database Delivery Unit will provide a copy of the data held, including the DNA profile, to the force for forwarding on to the requester.
All applications for Subject Access from the National DNA Database must be made to the Police Force which took your DNA sample. The force will reply to you with the result of the NDNAD search. This may take up to 40 days from the date your application is received by the relevant Police Force.
If I am on the NDNAD is it possible to get my profile removed?
The vast majority of people not convicted of a recordable offence will have their DNA profiles removed from the NDNAD during the implementation of the Protection of Freedoms Act.
There is an exceptional case procedure for removal of DNA, Fingerprints and PNC records:
Records held on the database are owned by the force where the offence was committed and only a Chief Officer as 'Data Controller' for that force can authorise removal. Applications are considered against set criteria which provide that records should only be removed where one of the following has been established:
A recordable offence no longer exists or any part of the process from arrest through to detention was found to be unlawful.
Therefore persons wishing to apply must write to the force concerned detailing why they believe their request to be exceptional.
It is important to note that under current legislation and guidelines it is immaterial where a person is eliminated from any involvement, or acquitted at court. Providing a recordable offence occurred and the whole process was correctly conducted records may be retained. The final decision always rests with a Chief Officer for the owning force, who has ultimate authority to exercise his discretion on removal or retention.
Can two people have the same DNA profile?
Identical twins and identical triplets will share the same DNA profile.
Two brothers or two sisters (blood relatives) are much more likely to share more similar profiles than two unrelated people.
There is a very small, but finite chance that two unrelated people could share the same DNA profile. For court purposes, when two full DNA profiles are said to match, a conservative match probability of one in a billion (that is, a thousand million) is used to describe the power of the match.
No two unrelated people have been found with the same SGM Plus DNA profile on the NDNAD.
What safeguards are in place to protect DNA information on the NDNAD?
Access to the NDNAD is strictly controlled and is limited to a small number of employees of the NDNAD Delivery Unit, all of whom have received the necessary security clearances. Police forces do not have access to the NDNAD but are informed of matches by the NDNAD Delivery Unit.
Occasionally requests are made to release information on the NDNAD for research purposes. There are strict controls over the circumstances in which such information can be released. Requests are considered by the NDNAD Strategy Board and the NDNAD Ethics Group and are approved only if they have a clear operational benefit for the police.