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Three months on, you still can't get off the DNA database

Carry on sampling...

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The Joint Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) has a similar understanding and is expecting proposals from the Government by March 4th. Following the lack of substantive response from Vernon Coaker at the oral evidence session of the JCHR on 2008-12-09 (see Q65), the same day, Andrew Dismore, MP and Chair of JCHR, sent a letter to Jacqui Smith "to ask for further information about the Government's response to the judgment of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in S and Marper v United Kingdom (App. No 30562/04 and 30566/04, 4 December 2008)."

This letter includes a series of specific questions:

I am writing to ask for further information on the Government's response to this judgment:

• What general measures does the Government consider are necessary in order to remove the breach of the Convention identified by the Grand Chamber?

• Does the Government now intend to destroy all fingerprints or samples currently held on the national DNA database, or otherwise held by the police, except those which were gathered during an investigation which led to the donor's conviction? If not, why not?

• Does the Government intend to amend the provisions of Section 64 (1A) PACE?

• Specifically, does the Government intend to bring forward proposals similar to those which currently apply in Scotland? If not, why not?

• If the Government considers that legislative changes are necessary to remove the breach, does the Government intend to (a) use the remedial order process provided for in the Human Rights Act; or (b) bring forward proposals in the expected Policing and Crime Bill.

• If the Government intends to use a remedial order, I would be grateful if you could explain whether the Government intends to use the urgent or non-urgent procedure.

• If the Government considers that legislative changes are necessary but does not intend to bring forward proposals in the Policing and Crime Bill or in a remedial order, I would be grateful if you could provide a detailed explanation for that view.

• If legislative reform is proposed, my Committee would be grateful for copies of the draft proposals as soon as they are available.

• If the Government does not consider that legislative changes are necessary, please provide a detailed explanation for that view.

Following the timetable we recommended in our earlier reports, we would expect the Government to write to us with their initial reaction to the judgment by 4 January 2008 and with their proposed response to the judgment, including any proposals for general measures which the Government considers necessary to remedy the breach before 4 March 2008.

[emphasis in the original]

Again on 2008-12-09, this time in the Lords, Lord West of Spithead gave the strong impression that the Government was already well prepared and could move soon, well in time for the deadline, so far believed to be early March:

My Lords, the UK Government are bound by international law to comply with the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights. The European Convention on Human Rights was established to protect the interests of us all. However, it will be for the UK Government and Parliament to consider how best to give effect to the judgment. We established a contingency planning group earlier this year to look at the potential implications of a violation judgment. The group has been dealing with a hypothetical situation up until four or five days ago, and it will now focus its planning on the implications of the judgment. [...]

Until we come up with changes to our recommendations - as I said, we must come up with proposals by March 2009 - nothing will change.

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