A GOVERNMENT minister has defended one in ten Hampshire people being on the national DNA database because it helps solve thousands of crimes a year.

Home Office crime reduction minister Alan Campbell described the database as “vital”.

More than 70 per cent of the DNA held was from men, while around 11,000 profiles were of youngsters aged 18 and under, it has emerged.

Romsey MP Sandra Gidley, who uncovered the figures through a Parliamentary question, described the statistics as “shocking” and accused the Government of “criminalising” the county’s population.

She said: “The Government has rapidly built the world’s biggest DNA database by stealth. While DNA is a vital tool in the fight against crime, there is no legitimate reason for the police to retain for life the DNA records of innocent people.

“There is also little evidence that this enormous database of DNA from innocent people has led to a surge in crime detection rates.

“It is vital that the Government complies with the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling, and removes the profiles of innocent people from the database immediately.”

Human rights charity Liberty also urged the Government to limit its database to serious offenders.

However, Mr Campbell said: “It is vital that we maintain the capacity of the DNA database to provide as much detection as possible...but we must balance this with the consideration of when other people should come off.

“We believe the proposals currently before Parliament represent the most proportionate approach to DNA retention, as well as the most effective way of ensuring the database continues to help us tackle crime.”