Police May Have to Wipe DNA Records; Retention Is Breach of Human Rights

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Byline: Jack Doyle and Geoff Meade

NEARLY a million innocent people could have their records removed from the national DNA database after a court ruled that holding them breached their human rights.

The European Court of Human Rights severely criticised police powers to take and hold samples from suspects even if they are released or cleared.

Human rights groups welcomed the judgment and called for the Government to follow Scotland where police routinely destroy profiles of those either acquitted or not charged.

In a unanimous ruling, the Strasbourg court condemned the "blanket and indiscriminate nature" of powers given to police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The ruling could have important implications for fingerprint databases as the judges said holding innocent people's print details could also infringe their rights. Shami Chakrabarti, director of human rights group Liberty, which helped fund the case, urged ministers to let Parliament debate new database rules.

She said: "That court has used human rights principles and common sense to deliver the privacy of innocent people that the British Government has shamefully failed to deliver. …