A  DNA database is a database of DNA profiles which can be used by law enforcement agencies to identify suspects of crimes.

Using DNA to trace people who are suspected of committing a crime has been a major advance in policing. When DNA profiling is used wisely it can help to convict people who have committed serious crimes or exonerate people who are innocent. However, concerns arise when individuals’ tissue samples, computerized DNA profiles and personal data are stored indefinitely on a DNA database. There are concerns that this information could be used in ways that threaten people’s individual privacy and rights and that of their families.

Forensic DNA databases are now well established in many countries in the world. Rules on what data can be collected and stored and how it can be used differ greatly between different countries. As DNA sequencing technology advances and becomes cheaper, there are plans to set up new databases or expand existing databases in many countries.

In some countries, databases that used to contain records only from people convicted of serious crimes are being expanded to include many innocent people who have been arrested but not convicted and people convicted or given police warnings or other sanctions for minor crimes. These people are treated as a ‘risky population’ who may commit future offences. In other countries, a DNA database of the whole population is proposed. Data-sharing, involving the transfer of information across international borders, is also on the increase.