DNA and Fingerprint Retention Unlawful

Posted: 10th June 2011

FingerprintFollowing a Supreme Court ruling, moves are afoot to change the guidelines operated by the police for the retention of fingerprints and DNA samples.

Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, the police were obliged to destroy such data taken from a person who was cleared with regard to an offence.
Following a change in the law in 2001, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) had issued guidelines to police forces in England and Wales stating that data should be destroyed ‘only in exceptional cases’.
However, the Court ruled that the guidelines were unlawful because they did not comply with European human rights law.
New guidance will have to be issued to Police Forces and the Government proposes to initiate new laws regarding the retention of DNA samples and fingerprints similar to those used in Scotland, which only allow the retention of samples for a limited period and with regard to a certain types of crime.