Birmingham solicitors Williamson & Soden has voiced concerns over the extent to which children's personal information is being stored on the UK's DNA database.
It has emerged that the national computerised file contains the details of almost 3,000 children under the age of 16 in the West Mercia area and 10,000 records of West Midlands youngsters.
Andrea Jones, an accredited police station representative, says that in her experience many young people who come before the courts have committed one-off acts of sheer stupidity for which they will now be punished for life.
"We are aware that West Midlands Police regularly adopts an 'arrest only' policy when questioning members of the public, which means that when an accusation is made - even if it is totally unsubstantiated - someone who voluntarily attends a police station is automatically arrested without any discretion as to age, evidence or the nature of the offence, and their photograph, fingerprints and DNA are taken as a permanent record," she said.
"Children have become a soft target and families with youngsters who don't get into trouble just don't understand the implications."
Minor playground incidents used to be resolved by schools. The culprits were brought before the head teacher, and during a discussion which might also involve parents, the matter would be sorted out informally.
Nowadays, said Mrs Jones, it was not unusual for the police to be summoned, and once this happens children's details are automatically taken as a permanent record - before they have been interviewed and possibly proved to be completely innocent.
She cautioned it was a common misconception that DNA samples and other records are destroyed when someone is vindicated.
By law the information will be retained permanently and this could lead to adverse consequences in the future. The record will show up in a full Criminal Records Bureau check - without any explanation regarding the details of the alleged offence - which could cause problems for individuals who apply for jobs which involve working with children, the elderly or other vulnerable members of society.
"It is time to show discretion, so that young people in particular are not criminalised for minor misdemeanours and the police are able to focus on ridding our streets of hardened offenders," adds Mrs Jones.
"If a young person does not re-offend within a period of say, 12 months, we believe the record should be archived so that it does not appear in a full CRB check or when people apply for visas. Anyone committing a 'one-off' offence would then be allowed to grow up to achieve their potential and become a useful member of society."
* Williamson & Soden has warned landowners to be on the alert against fraud.
It follows the Land Registry restricting the online service it launched in 2005 to help the public gain access to registers of title.
Land Register Online still allows people to obtain copies of registers of title and title plans, but they cannot now access electronic copies of scanned documents because of concerns that fraudsters were using them to forge signatures.
"Changes which took effect in 2003 mean that some transactions have become easier to register because it is no longer necessary to produce certain evidence of ownership on registration," said property specialist Louisa Jakeman. "Fraud can be common where property is jointly owned and one or more of the parties resorts to forgery because an innocent owner does not agree to a course of action."