Essex Police have been criticised for refusing to reveal how many people have asked to have their DNA removed from the national database.

Paul Morson, 33, from Westcliff, spoke after the Echo was rebuffed it its attempts to find out how many people had ever written to Essex’s Chief Constable requesting their DNA is removed from the database.

Mr Morson has been campaigning to get his DNA taken off the national register after he was released without charge in August, following his arrest on suspicion of burglary.

He said: “Essex Police not telling the Echo is indicative of the whole situation.

“I believe if a person has been proven innocent or committed no crime, then keeping their records on the DNA database is a complete infringement of our civil liberties.

“Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?”

When he was arrested, Mr Morson had to provide a DNA sample, as well as fingerprints and a mugshot, and, as a result, he is now on the national DNA database.

Mr Morson is one of 850,000 people from across the UK who have been arrested, but never convicted of any offence whose DNA has been kept, and he is determined to get his details removed.

It is up to the Chief Constable to decide whether there are “exceptional circumstances” which would allow police to dispose of the samples.

But in a response, Steve Grayton, an information officer in the freedom of information team, said the Echo requests would take too much time or cost too much money for their scientific support department to find out. This was because the data was not in an “accessible format”, like a central database or spreadsheet.

Public bodies, such as the police, are allowed to refuse Freedom of Information Act requests if finding the information would cost more than £450 or take over 18 hours to process.

Police say keeping DNA samples, even of innocent people, has subsequently helped them solve thousands of crimes, including murders and rapes.