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 presiding.
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.