Excerpts from a letter by Ian Readhead, director of information at ACPO, sent last month to all chief constables have been widely quoted in the press:
Until that time [when new guidelines are set by the Home Office], the current retention policy on fingerprints and DNA remains unchanged.
Individuals who consider they fall within the ruling in the S and Marper case should await the full response to the ruling by the government prior to seeking advice and/or action from the police service in order to address their personal issue on the matter.
Acpo strongly advise that decisions to remove records should not be based on [the government's] proposed changes. It is therefore vitally important that any applications for removals of records should be considered against current legislation.
There's nothing new in this advice. Here's an excerpt from the letter sent by ACPO to chief constables on 2008-12-09, just a few days after the European Court of Human Rights ruling in S and Marper v. UK:
The Government is expected to provide a considered response to this ruling, which is currently under consideration by their Lawyers.
Whilst this judgement has gone against the Government, it does not have any impact on the current retention fingerprint and DNA policy until the law is changed by Parliament. It therefore follows that the current legislation and procedures remain unaffected by this ruling.
Individuals who consider that they fall within the ruling in the S & Marper case should await the full response to the ruling by Government prior to seeking advice and/or action from the Police Service in order to address their personal issues on the matter.
Once the legal interpretation has been established, further advice will be provided via the ACPO Criminal Records Office.
Last March, I wrote about how this advice is being followed by chief constables in Three months on, you still can't get off the DNA database. Read that article for typical letters from chief constables to individuals requesting to get off the NDNAD. Anecdotal evidence shows that chief constables have attempted to rebuff those writing to them to have their DNA samples destroyed, DNA profile deleted and other associated records (fingerprints, palm prints, PNC) deleted by responding along the lines of "Individuals who consider that they fall within the ruling in the S & Marper case are being advised to await the full response to the ruling by the Government prior to seeking advice and/or action from the Police Service in order to address their personal issues on the matter" (excerpt from such a response).
This is of course not acceptable as until new laws and regulations are put in place, "applications for removals of records should be considered against current legislation" and regulations on their individual merit. The infamous Retention guidelines for nominal records of the police national computer describes the procedure to decide whether a case is deemed to be exceptional enough for the request to be granted. These guidelines are issued by the Association of Chief of Police Officers (ACPO), a private company.
If your DNA profile is on the NDNAD do apply to get off it. Few have done it. Combined figures for 2008 obtained from 20 police forces that did record this information show that out of 535 requests received, 211 succeeded. You will need to persevere and don't take no as an answer. As shown by Damian Green who just announced his DNA profile has been removed, it is possible to successfully argue one's case is exceptional. (Ironically, he was commenting on the "draconian" retention guidelines only a few days before his arrest and DNA sampling last November.) However, being an MP may have helped him. Dr Helen Wallace from GeneWatch UK said: "We congratulate Damian Green on his success but it highlights how arbitrary and unfair the system is. People who are famous or get press coverage for their case seem to get removed while the vast majority of people do not." For the vast majority, there's help in the form of a website launched earlier this year by a coalition of NGOs, including GeneWatch UK: ReclaimYourDNA.