S. and Michael Marper v. The United Kingdom (DNA Retention)


Result for the case now out  – 4th December 2008

Will the police delete DNA as a result of the ruling?

Full Judgment is available

S and Marper v United Kingdom

A boy known as “S” and Michael Marper (born 1989 and 1963 and respectively) both had their DNA taken after being arrested in Sheffield in separate, unrelated, cases. In both cases the charges against the the individual were dropped, however the police will not destroy the DNA samples for these individuals. The law was changed in 2001 and 2004 to allow the retention of DNA and fingerprints, and therefore the Police have acted quite properly.

However, the S and Marper have questions the legality of the UK government to retain their data samples under Articles 8 (right to respect for private life) and Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In 2004 they brought a case (reference numbers 0562/04 and 30566/04 respectively) against the UK Government, via the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). On 10th June 2007 the case was declared admissible, then in December 2007 the case was sent to the Grand Chambers and was heard on Wednesday 27th February 2008 at 2:30 pm, in front of 22 Judges, from a variety of countries, including a Swiss judge. Jean-Paul Costa (French), was presidingPresident of the ECHR.

Jean-Paul Costa, born in Tunis on on 3 November 1941. He has been a Judge at the European Court of Human Rights since 1 November 1998, then became was Vice-President of the ECHR on 1st November 2001 and President of the ECHR since 19 January 2007.

If the UK government lose this case it will radically effect how DNA samples are collected and stored. As of 2005 over 200,000 samples were retained that would have been destroyed if it was not for the UK legislation that allows the police to retain samples of people who are not convicted. As of 2005 those 200,00 samples have resulted in 4% “convictions”, for a variety of offences. It is not known if those 4% of criminals detected by the DNA database would have been solved without the DNA samples being there in the first place. The creation of a DNA or “Genetics” Database, has been questioned by many people and the ICO (Information Commissioners Office) has also called for debate on the subject. The House of Lords have also highlighted the fact that the UK collection is not the same as the rest of the EU, during their report in the Prum Convention which allows for sharing of DNA and Fingerprint information across the EU.

The Marper and S case could well result in either the Government ordering all of these samples destroyed or the police destroying them on a request by request basis.

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9 Responses to “S. and Michael Marper v. The United Kingdom (DNA Retention)”

  1. Prüm Convention « Data - Where is it? Says:

    […] The reason the UK is out of kilter with the rest of the world is due to several changes in the law, that allows the police to take and retain DNA to be kept for people who are innocent of any crime. This particular issue is being challenged in the ECHR in the case of S and Marper v UK […]

  2. Michael Marper and “S” V United Kingdom « Data - Where is it? Says:

    […] Marper and “S” V United Kingdom The Marper and S case is not expected to receive a ruling until September […]

  3. DNA Error or DNA Success? « Data - Where is it? Says:

    […] in the past decade, there are questions as to how many other errors have occured. With the recent S and Marper v United Kingdom ruling, it means that less DNA should be taken, though this does not seem to have happened, but if […]

  4. DNA: S and Marper - Governments decision « Data - Where is it? Says:

    […] this there was a test case, brough by two individuals, “S” and “Marper”, resulting in a case that went all the way to the ECHR, and resulted in a verdict against the UK […]

  5. DNA: Does the DNA database work? « Data – Where is it? Says:

    […] Does the DNA database work? Posted on May 12, 2009 by Rob Following the Marper case in the ECHR, the defeat of the Government, the House of Lords report on privacy, and finally […]

  6. ACPO Guidelines for DNA Retention « Data – Where is it? Says:

    […] ‘where appropriate’ is the ACPO stated policy why did the UK government fight the case of Marper and S in the ECHR and […]

  7. DNA Rention Limits – More of the Same « Where is Your Data? Says:

    […] those not acquainted with the reasons behind this change in the law this is due to the S and Marper V United Kingdom test cases in the ECHR, where they challenged, successfully the UK law on detaining, indefinitely […]

  8. Case Law: Photography « Where is Your Data? Says:

    […] Mr Wood was photographed as he left a meeting, by police photographers; they came very close to him to take his picture, the impression given is they were almost “paparazzi style” photographs. Mr Woods who has never been charged, arrested, or apparently linked to any violence, felt that the police should not retain this data. A case with clear echoes of the S and Marper v UK case. […]

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