Police breaking law by keeping DNA of the innocent, supreme court rules 4


Alan Travis writes in The Guardian:

The supreme court has declared that chief constables who refuse to delete the DNA profiles of more than 1 million innocent people on request are acting unlawfully.

The ruling by the most senior judges in England and Wales says that the current police policy of indefinitely keeping DNA profiles of people arrested but never convicted is excessive and violates privacy rights.

Chief constables have continued collecting the DNA profiles of everyone arrested, whether they are convicted or not, and keeping them indefinitely on a national database.

This is despite a ruling by the European court of human rights more than three years ago that it was a breach of privacy rights.

More than 200,000 new DNA profiles of innocent people have been added to the national police DNA database since the ruling that their blanket retention was unlawful in February 2008, bringing the total to more than 1.1 million.

A blog entry by members of 1 Crown Office Row barristers’ chambers gives legal details.

Anna Fairclough writes on the Guardian’s Comment is Free web site:

However, because of the draft legislation in parliament, the court declined to order the police to implement a lawful scheme, at least until parliament has had a reasonable time to pass the bill currently before it. So, although the declaration of illegality is welcome, the judgment will make little practical difference for the hundreds of thousands of people whose DNA is – admittedly – unlawfully retained, who will have to wait even longer to compel the police to destroy it.