UK: Amending the law on the DNA database needs proper scrutiny

From a commentary by David Pannick, QC:

Last December the European Court of Human Rights decided in S and Marper v The United Kingdom that the retention by the State of DNA profiles is a breach of Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. That is because information about people arrested for, or charged with, an offence but not subsequently convicted, is kept on the national DNA database for an unlimited period of time. The Government has accepted the judgment of the European court and announced that it will change the law to ensure compliance. But its proposed method of doing so is unsatisfactory and needs reconsideration.

The Government published a consultation paper on May 7 suggesting that the DNA profiles of people charged but not convicted should in future be kept for six or twelve years, depending on the seriousness of the alleged offence. The consultation period runs until August 7. The Government has rightly emphasised that this is a context, like so many others under the convention, where it is necessary to strike a balance between the rights of the individual and the protection of the public. The right to privacy may make it more difficult to detect dangerous criminals. There will inevitably be disagreements about where the balance lies, having regard to the point made by the House of Lords Constitution Committee that DNA profiles provide the State with large amounts of personal information about citizens that could, in the future, be used for malign purposes.

Read more in The Times Online.

About the author: Dissent

Comments are closed.