Police in Sussex have taken the DNA details of nearly 80,000 people, the Government has revealed.

Figures published by the Home Office show the force has logged the equivalent of more than six per cent of the area's population on to the national database.

The figures, produced in response to a Parliamentary question from an MP, show the genetic records of 77,828 individuals had been collected by Sussex Police by the end of October 2006.

That is equivalent to nearly 6.2 per cent of the county's 1.2 million population.

It means Sussex Police have collected more DNA records per head of local population than any other force in the South East.

By contrast, the number of records collected by Surrey Police, 42,000, is equivalent to just 3.9 per cent of the local population.

DNA records for 422,850 individuals have been collected across the South East - the equivalent of 5.52 per cent of the region's population.

The database has expanded significantly over the last five years, following Government and police investment of more than £300 million, and is now the largest of any country in the world.

More than five per cent of the UK population is on the database compared with 0.5 per cent in the USA.

The Home Office said in some cases individuals would have more than one profile on the national database because of replication by different police forces.

In total, about 3.5 million profiles are retained nationwide - the profiles of the majority of the known active offender population.

Almost three million of the profiles are for people over 21 and 140,000 are for children under 16.

A controversial amendment to the law in 2001 permitted police to hold samples of people who have been arrested but not cautioned or charged with any offence.

The Government has rejected demands that police be made to delete samples taken from under-18s who are arrested but subsequently released.

Ministers have said there are no plans to introduce a universal DNA database, whether compulsory or voluntary.