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Take DNA sample from anyone arrested, Blair urges police

London Telegraph | April 5 2004

Tony Blair will today urge the police to use new powers to fingerprint and take DNA samples from anyone they arrest, including those over the drink-drive limit.

Until now, the police have been able to fingerprint and take DNA without consent only from those who are charged or convicted of a recordable offence.

The Prime Minister believes that extending fingerprinting and DNA testing will result in more crimes being cleared up. Eighteen months ago a successful prosecution for the murder and sexual assault of a schoolboy 30 years ago was based on a DNA sample taken from a drunk driver.

Legislation which comes into effect today will enable the police to take fingerprints and DNA from people who are arrested, even if they are not then charged and do not give their consent. The samples will help the police to build up a much larger database of DNA samples and fingerprints which can then be matched against evidence found at crime scenes.

Downing Street has defended the move, saying it would increase the detection rate and result in crimes being solved more quickly.

Mr Blair will also urge the Home Office to introduce compulsory drug testing for those arrested for crimes like burglary and theft - which are often committed by addicts.

He believes this would enable the early identification of drug users and allow them to be offered treatment in a rehabilitation programme to break the habit.

Three quarters of crack and heroin users have committed a crime to pay for their habit.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives called last night for tougher penalties to be imposed on uninsured drivers.

Damian Green, the Tory transport spokesman, said a Conservative government would link the motor insurance database, which holds details of all policyholders, with the DVLA database, which holds details of drivers. This would enable instant identification of most offenders.

Mr Green said uninsured drivers were a menace who made every road in this country less safe.

"We need to educate them to take out insurance or they will have their vehicles taken away," he said. "We need zero tolerance of those who knowingly put other road users at risk."

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