Sun, 17 Jul 2011

Another European Court of Human Rights case about retention of innocents' DNA by UK police

Following the the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) decision in S. and Marper that 'the blanket and indiscriminate nature of the powers of retention of the fingerprints, cellular samples and DNA profiles of persons suspected but not convicted of offences, [...] constitutes a disproportionate interference with the applicants' right to respect for private life and cannot be regarded as necessary in a democratic society', there has been two bills (the latest effort is in the Protection of Freedoms bill) and a case recently went to the Supreme Court, but the police still routinely hold on to DNA, fingerprints, palm prints, photographs and associated records of innocents.

On Tuesday the ECtHR will be publishing (on its website) its judgment in another case concerning the ineffective retention of the DNA and associated records of innocents:

Goggins and Others v. United Kingdom (nos. 30089/04, 14449/06, 24968/07, 13870/08, 36363/08, 23499/09, 43852/09 and 64027/09)

The applicants, Ciaron Goggins, John Day, Michael Jackson, Christopher Scott, Guled Michael, Carol Castley-Turner, Darren Coates and Jonathan Bennetts, are eight British nationals who were born in 1961, 1964, 1953, 1952, 1977, 1950, 1971 and 1971 respectively and live in the United Kingdom. Relying in particular on Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life), all the applicants complain about the collection and retention of their DNA samples, fingerprints and associated data despite either being acquitted of criminal charges brought against them or having criminal proceedings against them dropped.

An intriguing aspect of this case is that so little is currently publicly available about it. Searching the confusing ECtHR collections, the excellent British and Irish Legal Information Institute databases, and more general search engines currently returns only the press release announcing this week's forthcoming judgment. Hopefully, the judgment will not only address the substantive matter but also shed some light as to why so little information is available (or indexed) when this case must have gone on for several years winding its way through the UK and then European court systems.

Bootnote: Hat tip to reader CR for pointing out this case.

Update: The judgement has been published. The court unanimously decided 'it is appropriate to strike the cases out of the list in so far as they concern complaints related to the collection and retention of DNA samples, fingerprints and associated data and the retention of PNC records, without prejudice to the Court’s power to decide, pursuant to Article 37 § 2, to restore the applications to the list should the respondent State fail to enact the draft legislation [the Protection of Freedoms Bill] currently before Parliament.'.

websiteblogblog archivenews feedfeedback