Retention of cleared suspects' DNA by police ruled unlawful

23 May 2011

The UK Supreme Court has ruled in support of an earlier European legal ruling that the records of up to one million individuals should be expunged from the National DNA Database.

The largest forensic DNA database in the world (see previous news) has for some years caused controversy over a number of practices, including the retention of samples and linked data from crime suspects who were subsequently either not charged, or tried but found innocent of any crime. The Supreme Court has now echoed the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights three years ago by concluding that this practice violates parts of the European Human Rights Convention and is therefore unlawful.
The UK government is planning updated provisions in the forthcoming Protection of Freedoms Bill currently before Parliament that will, if it passes into law, prevent retention of samples in circumstances. Until then, police may continue to hold DNA samples of anyone who is arrested, in accordance with the legal framework put in place in 2001.

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