The Government’s DNA retention policy combined with increasingly sophisticated statistical techniques means that eventually most citizens in the UK will be linked to data stored on the police’s DNA database, according to a privacy law expert.
The outcome of an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that challenges the UK’s DNA retention policy will not limit the ultimate reach of the DNA database, only the speed of its compilation, says Dr Chris Pounder of Pinsent Masons.
Under last year’s Police and Justice Act, the police are allowed to retain DNA data on those arrested even if those arrested are not convicted of or even charged with any crime. Data derived from these samples are then added to the National DNA Database.
Michael Marper’s case before the ECHR could change this law. Marper was accused of harassment by his partner. He was arrested and DNA samples were taken. The charges were dropped when he reconciled with his partner, but police refused to destroy his DNA samples and related data.