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Policewatch Films

Friday, 5 December 2008

European Court Rules on DNA

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’.


Anonymous said...

I understand and accept the principles on which this was taken to court and the judgement won, and whilst I recognise that this does represent a light at the end of the tunnel for this cause, it is irrefutable that over 100 murderers, over 100 rapists and nearly 70 other sex offenders have been caught due to records kept on the DNA database. Those offenders were caught, and prevented from committing further crimes solely because of the way DNA was retained prior to this ruling. I accept that many innocent peoples DNA was retained, and the concern this causes, but given that in future those offenders will go free to create more victims of these heinous crimes, is this not a bittersweet victory?

Anonymous said...

"I accept that many innocent peoples DNA was retained, and the concern this causes, but given that in future those offenders will go free to create more victims of these heinous crimes, is this not a bittersweet victory?"

no its not the same searches will still be made, if you are arrested of a serious arrestable offence, then dna will be taken regardless of whether you are innocent or guilty, the search will still take place, (eg abh, fighting), which is how many have been caught so far (breach of the peace may not qualify). If afterwards however you are either let off, charges dropped or found innocent in court your details will now be wiped, but it wont stop the dna searches, it just means that an ever widening of the database will stop, unless you are convicted or there are dna samples which are from a crime scene. and as most of those who have been caught, are likely to be arrogant enough to be caught again, so it will still work.

oh and by the way I doubt anyone arrested for anything to do with fitwatch will have to give dna either, as I doubt its a serious arrestable offence, it is a non recordable offence. ie is not criminal, but they may argue it is about to be, but proving there is terrorist intent is utter rubbish, as proved by the muslim girl who called herself the "lyrical terrorist", who has now been acquitted.

see and read

see down the list no numbers no warrant card no powers. So g8 lot with no numbers, be warned you are acting illegally and can be ignored.

re dna

down the list for a bindover

though as we have lately seen re-parliament the police will B*****t the law they are hear to uphold just to get a pat on the back in canteen, just stop and think for a second, millions of people died for justice in this country, the way we are going we will have achieved all of hitlers aims through the back door if we are not careful and that goes for the ones, making it up, be very careful.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

It is my understanding that the DNA database will now be decimated, I accept that people will still have their DNA taken, but if they wait 6 - 12 months for their tiral and are found not guilty they can be safe and secure in the knowledge that their sample will be wiped, and they will be free to murder/rape etc, it will therefore not work in the same way it has done up till now and murderers/rapists will be free to commit their crimes as a direct result of this ruling.

norrack said...

of course the police do sterling work at the moment ensuring that rapists are so frequently convicted.

Anonymous said...


Exactly, whatever peoples political persuasion is, surely correctly prosecuting rapists is something to be strived towards, this ruling will hinder the police further and reduce the currently woefully low conviction rate still further.

Anonymous said...


Anyone got figures to show how retaining the DNA of people who have been arrested and either acquitted or not prosecuted has led to an upswing in the number of rape clear-ups.

Emotive bollocks which ignores the fact that the state should not have access to such personal information when they have not proven the person to be guilty.

Treating the entire population as rapists is a wee bit extreme......

droctiac said...

but it does go some way to showing how the cop mindset works

Anonymous said...

~ its no differant from the type which thinks every coper is a bastard-its more down to situational forces I assert there are some decent, even kind cops - ok I met one recently.

Anonymous said...

The figures for rape convictions related solely to those samples which have been held on the database in a way contravening this ruling, and would therefore be unsolved at this point in time by other means are 144 convictions.

Anonymous said...

...144 convictions.

Source please?

Anonymous said...

The number comes from one of the dailies last week, whichever one I picked up on the train that day.

Anonymous said...


"...144 convictions."

from a daily you picked up on a train you can't remember which one..... it didn't happen to mention how many of those DNA samples were from arrested protestors by any chance, did it?

Anonymous said...

There aren't many offences for which protestors get arrested that are recordable are there?

Anonymous said...

PS Comment
Crim Dam, Going equipped,Assault,Public order,Points and blades, Poss drugs to name but a few.

All good, baby!

Anonymous said...

Instead of this "hundreds of rapist bullshit" why don't you people quote some honest numbers. The DNA database has been crucial in solving less than 0.4% of offences.

"Figures given to Parliament show that even though 7 per cent of the UK population are now on the DNA database it helped solve only 0.36 per cent of crimes, down from 0.37 per cent last year. In the same period over half a million people have been added to the database."

There's also the elephant in the room known as "false positive". The database does not store your entire DNA sequence, it merely stores a representative fingerprint. This means that it's entirely possible for someone else to have the same "DNA" as you according to the database. Couple that with the complete ignorance of statistics, genetics and deductive reasoning in the police and you are going to have problems.

The guy recently acquitted of the Omagh bombing was arrested because of a DNA match. Another match was made to a 10yr old kid. The police obviously discarded the kid as a suspect and then assumed that the remaining "match" must be the guilty party.

It never occurred to them that both matches could be wrong.

The more people you add to the database, the more false positives you will get and the less use it will be.

Anonymous said...

We will have to see just how the government responds to the ruling from Strasbourg. The court gave a big steer pointing out the situation in Scotland where DNA samples are destroyed if a person is released without charge or acquitted. There is an exception which allows samples to be retained even in that circumstance where the alleged offence was violent or sexual, but only for a few (3?) years rather than indefinitely.

The ruling shouldn't really be seen as some kind of precedent with regard to the taking and storing of photographs and other data. The DNA case was not about the police's right to keep data, but the individual's right to a private life. Any HR case would have to show that the taking and storing of photos and other "intelligence" infringed the right of the individual concerned.