MORE than 1,400 under-18s in West Yorkshire have had their DNA taken and stored by police.
An Examiner investigation has revealed that police in the county have taken DNA samples from 1,440 innocent children and young people since July 19 last year.
They had been arrested, but released without charge.
Their details are stored alongside those of convicted criminals.
West Yorkshire Police's database contains the DNA of just over 200,000 people, amassed over a decade.
If police were to continue to amass samples of youngsters' DNA at the same rate over the next decade they would store about 17,000 - equivalent to the population of the Dalton ward on Kirklees Council.
Nationally, 24,168 innocent under-18s have their DNA on police databases.
Now a Conservative MP is leading a campaign to halt police powers and get rid of all the records held.
Welwyn Hatfield MP Grant Shapps said: "This is a stealthy way to get everybody on a national database.
"If that is what the Government want to do they should do it properly and have it debated.
"At the moment, police can take swabs from anyone. Most worryingly, this includes children and they don't even need parental permission."
The powers were handed to the police in April, 2004, when the Criminal Justice Act 2003 came into force.
Mouth swabs or samples of hair can be taken from anyone stopped by police - even if they are not charged or later found to be innocent.
A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: "Under current legislation we can take samples from anyone arrested - even if this does not result in a charge.
"They can be kept on a database and used for intelligence purposes."
Mr Shapps said the database went against the `innocent until proven guilty' belief of British justice.
He added: "It is justice backwards.
"In Leeds a student had his DNA taken after his friend did some criminal damage.
"A week later the student was arrested over a postal theft.
"His DNA matched some on an envelope that was recovered. It turned out he had sent the letter."
Jo Corlew, of civil rights group Liberty, said the figures were "shocking".
She added: "It is bad enough that police take samples from adults and do not later destroy them when they are cleared of wrongdoing.
"But keeping personal information about children should be stopped.
"The danger is that people become guilty of other crimes by association.
"It is almost a police state."