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Child DNA Samples

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8:30am 21st May 2013

Pirate FM has learnt police in Cornwall and Devon have taken DNA samples from almost three children a day.

The Howard League for Penal Reform says 1009 swabs were collected in 2011.

Of those, 18 were taken from primary school children and five were 10 years old.

The figures show a drop from 2010, where 1320 samples were taken.

Frances Crook, Chief Executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, said: "When public money is tight and police forces are shrinking, it is disappointing to see valuable crime-fighting resources being wasted on taking DNA samples from thousands of innocent children while serious offences go undetected.

"Children who get into trouble with the police are usually just up to mischief. Treating so many like hardened criminals by taking their DNA seems excessive.

"We welcome the government's decision to stop storing innocent people's DNA indefinitely, but it remains unclear how this will affect the number of children having their DNA taken needlessly."

Devon and Cornwall Police have told Pirate FM that this is a national issue, and the Association of Chief Police Officers has released a statement.

Spokeswoman Amanda Cooper said: "DNA may be taken from children in a number of circumstances with the intention of preventing or detecting crime. These may be when a child has been a victim of crime, when police would take DNA to confirm an incident took place and check whether it can be linked to a perpetrator. Others will be as part of a criminal investigation where a child is the suspect. DNA samples are also taken to conduct criminal paternity tests as part of sexual offence investigations. The taking and retention of DNA from people of all ages is set out clearly under law."

8:30am 21st May 2013

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