>European Court Rules on DNA

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>European Court Rules on DNA

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg yesterday found that the keeping of DNA from people who have no criminal convictions was a breach of their Article 8 rights to privacy. This should mean that the police will be forced to destroy hundreds of thousands of samples, including 40,000 taken from children.

This is exceptionally good news in itself, but the ruling could also re-open the debate about whether photographs and film retained by police public order intelligence units could also be a breach of Article 8. The courts have been heavily influenced by the DNA case when looking more generally at police rights to collect and collate data. Now the House of Lords decision on DNA is in tatters, the courts may be forced to accept that other forms of police data gathering also breach the Convention.

Of course, much depends on the government response to this ruling. The European Convention on Human Rights is not exactly popular amongst either of the two main political parties and there have been murmurings for many years that the European Court has too much sway over UK law. Jacqui Smith has so far commented only that she is ‘disappointed’ with the ruling and that the government will now ‘carefully consider the judgement’.

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