Feeds

Police to retain DNA records of cleared suspects

Crimebusting more important than human rights

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

High performance access to file storage

Police will be able to keep DNA and fingerprint records of innocent people on file indefinitely following a landmark legal ruling yesterday.

The House of Lords, the highest court in England and Wales, upheld earlier rulings by the High Court and Court of Appeal against two people who wanted their records destroyed by South Yorkshire Police after separate criminal investigations against them were dropped. Five law lords unanimously ruled that the need to solve crimes outweighed civil liberties concerns.

The law was changed in 2001 to allow police to keep samples from suspects for use in "crime prevention or investigation". In his judgement, Lord Brown argued that the cause of human rights would be better served by expanding police databases rather than deleting records. He dismissed human rights objections raised by the appealants as "threadbare" and said the only logical reason for objecting to samples being kept by the police was that it would make it easier for authorities to arrest someone if they ever offended in future.

"The larger the database, the less call there will be to round up the usual suspects. Indeed, those amongst the usual suspects who are innocent will at once be exonerated," Lord Brown said, The Daily Telegraph reports.

Lord Steyn, who gave the leading judgment in the appeal, backed this view. He said police should be able to take advantage of modern technology which "enables the guilty to be detected and the innocent to be rapidly eliminated from inquiries".

The landmark ruling affects individuals who have been arrested and charged with a crime but not convicted of an offence. Law Lords made the ruling in considering the appeal of an 11 year-old Sheffield boy suspected of attempted robbery in 2001 and Michael Marper, 41, also from Sheffield, charged with harassing his partner. Marper's other half withdrew her complaint after the couple were reconciled and the case was dropped.

Law Lords rejected arguments that South Yorkshire Police's actions in keeping sample after the two cases were dropped contravened either the individual’s right to a private life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights or the right not to be discriminated against under Article 14 of the same convention.

Solicitor for the appellants, Peter Mahy, said his clients may challenge the Law Lords' ruling in the European Court of Human Rights. ®

Related stories

Tag, track, watch, analyse - UK goes mad on crime and terror IT
Techno cops needed to catch cyber criminals Blunkett
FBI apology for Madrid bomb fingerprint fiasco
Fingerprints as ID - good, bad, ugly?
Excel ate my DNA

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Parent gabfest Mumsnet hit by SSL bug: My heart bleeds, grins hacker
Natter-board tells middle-class Britain to purée its passwords
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Web data BLEEDOUT: Users to feel the pain as Heartbleed bug revealed
Vendors and ISPs have work to do updating firmware - if it's possible to fix this
One year on: diplomatic fail as Chinese APT gangs get back to work
Mandiant says past 12 months shows Beijing won't call off its hackers
Call of Duty 'fragged using OpenSSL's Heartbleed exploit'
So it begins ... or maybe not, says one analyst
German space centre endures cyber attack
Chinese code retrieved but NSA hack not ruled out
NSA denies it knew about and USED Heartbleed encryption flaw for TWO YEARS
Agency forgets it exists to protect communications, not just spy on them
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.