back to article Human rights court rules UK DNA grab illegal

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that it is illegal for the government to retain DNA profiles and fingerprints belonging to two men never convicted of any crime. The landmark decision could mean the more than 570,000 DNA profiles in the National DNA Database belonging to innocent individuals will have to be deleted …


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  1. alan

    Damn Right

    I take it all back europe your sins are forgiven :)

  2. Dave

    Business As Usual

    I see our loveable Home Secretary is saying that we're keeping the law in place while things are reviewed. I see that as "while we look for a loophole that means we get to keep the database".

    The law should be changed so that DNA is only added to the database on conviction.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    EU as a counter balance...

    The EU keep proving itself as a welcomed dose of sanity compared to the UK's over reaching abuse of powers. Fingers crossed the common sense will linger for at least a decade or two...

  4. bobbles31
    Thumb Up

    Who would have thought?

    That our very freedom is being protected not by our elected officials but by the House of Lords and the European Court of Human rights.

    The irony is not lost on me.

  5. Richard
    Thumb Up


    Score one for the little guy.

  6. James

    Just occasionally ...

    ... something good and sensible comes out of the European system.

    Jaqui Smith - as was pointed out recently - Orwells 1984 is NOT an instruction manual - IT IS A WARNING. And if you're too stupid to know the difference you should not be a Minister.

  7. TMS9900

    Great news!

    Sounds like a victory for common sense and decency. Great stuff.

    However, I must admit that there is a part of me that simply doesn't trust our government, or our police force.

    We've all seen in recent years how our authoritarian and draconian government have 'turned' our police force against the public they serve. In my mind, and it brings me pain to say it, the police are now 'the enemy of the state', second only to our goverment.

    Are the police these days not simply an instrument of government to crack down on it's public, removing free choice and free will? Are they not simply government sanctioned censors? ("You can't say that. You can do that. You can't think that. You can't take that photograph here." etc.) It seems to me they are.

    Our government/police (I've concatenated the two words, because I now believe them to be one and the same) have, it seems, quite literally taken leave of thier senses. One local force in Scotland has taken it upon themselves (they presumably see it as their responsibility) to hand out flip-flops to local drunk women out on the town "because they might hurt themselves while walking home without some sensible footware". Meanwhile, your house is getting burgled, while some copper on the high-street is saying "Ooh, you look like a size 5 love, and this colour matches your skirt beautifully!"

    And therefore, with a heavy heart, I have to say, that even with this ruling in the European courts, I simply do not trust our police or government to delete this information from their databases. They simply won't do it. It would kill them to do it. What they will probably do, in some self-righteous sense of warped logic, is create a second database to hold the details of those individuals who have had their information 'deleted'. In their minds, these people are not 'innocents'. They are merely people who they 'failed to catch the first time'.

    Of course, our governement will now appeal to the European courts, so we haven't heard the last of it. I have to say though, thank god for the european courts, at least, in this particular instance, because you certainly can't rely on our law lords to stick up for their own general public.

    Viva la Europe! <--- cor, look at that! Three languages in three words! How european am I?!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    a. roll over and accept it?

    b. spend loads of taxpayers money contesting it?

  9. bobbles31

    "The existing law will remain in place while we carefully consider the judgement."

    I wonder how far I would get with this if I failed in defense of an IR35 judgement.

    "The money will stay in my bank account whilst I carefully consider the judgement."

    Fuck off wacky, and the rest of you. New Year New Gov.

  10. Anonymous Coward

    The case was won on a discrimination point

    So Wacky's response will be to DNA test everyone and it will be a criminal offence not too allow a DNA sample to be taken.

    See no discrimination, just criminals.

    Simple (Well in Wacky's mind anyway)

  11. Jimmy Floyd
    Thumb Up

    Trés bien

    I know it's fashionable to bash the EU and the UK membership thereof, decrying the loss of sovereignty and national freedom blah blah blah....

    Equally, however, it must be recognised that sometimes - just sometimes - our elected representatives utterly screw up and we need someone bigger and LESS accountable to rise above petty politics and set us straight. God only knows why the opposition parties didn't.

    A 17-member unanimous verdict? That's a pretty clear slap for Nu Stalin^H^H^H^H^H^H Labour.

  12. Phil Hare

    Jacqui Smith... the greatest threat to civil liberty this country has faced since the 1940's. End of.

    Reg, can we have a Wackie Jacqui icon please?

  13. Sleepy
    Thumb Up


    Looking in from the outside, I have to say that the British government scares the bejeesus out of me at times. The EU may come up with a lot of pointless rubbish, but they're usually spot on when it comes to human rights.

  14. Andus McCoatover

    Delay tactics...

    "The existing law will remain in place while we carefully consider the judgement"

    They could "carefully consider" it for 50 years....

  15. Justabloke
    Thumb Up


    ... a sensible decision from the European court... and a predictable retort from Smith as the mouth peice of the gov. They really don't give a stuff about our rights at all.

    If only I believed that getting rid of this lot and replacing them with the other lot would make one jot of difference :(

  16. goggyturk

    @ Great News...

    >One local force in Scotland has taken it upon themselves (they presumably see it as their >responsibility) to hand out flip-flops to local drunk women out on the town "because they might >hurt themselves while walking home without some sensible footware".

    Maybe it's different in England, but in most Scottish towns, most crime happens in town centres at the weekend, so the police are actually doing their jobs by being there at that time. Also, giving out footwear to women will keep them out of the overflowing (at that time of night) A&E department of the local hospital.

    Other than that, I agree with what you say. The Plods will delete that data over their dead bodies.

    There is a delicious possibility that they could end up arresting the minister that orders them to get rid. Now that would be funny.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    And here's how we shall do it...


    ADD Deleted BIT

    IF DNAProfile.Conviction IS null


    SET Deleted = 1


    And on the store proc...

    WHERE Deleted <> 1

    Which is great, all appropriate records are 'deleted' but with the handy fail-safe in case anyone deletes an incorrect record.

    Top Stuff.

    Anon because... well, you saw what happened to Mr Green, right?

  18. Nick Palmer
    Thumb Up

    @Phil Hare & Reg

    Motion seconded - we NEED a Wacqui Jacqui icon!

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Home secretary Jacqui Smith said: "

    Who fucking cares what she said? It's always the same, tired refrain with a few rearranged keywords.

    How nice, after an endless stream of "all your civil liberties are belong to us" stories, to hear one in which Wacky + Co get a first class kicking. Another 2,379 stories like this and we'll be back where we were before the Stalinist Tendency took over in 1997.

    I feel safer already.

  20. Anonymous Coward


    Assuming that the admins of the DB are together enough to have some kind of backup strategy, then what are the technical implications of removing the information? I suppose they have to go through the backups and make sure the DNA profiles are deleted from those as well? Does that mean that someone has to go and update all the tape archives in secure off site storage too? How far back do they keep backups for, I wonder?

    Mine's the one with the stack of "mislaid" CDs in the pocket.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I wonder how they are going to be removed from the back-up tapes that contain a full dump of the database?

    Of course that assume that the operators have a full data integrity plan.

  22. Sergie Kaponitovicz
    Thumb Up


    "A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government."

    Edward Abbey

    In this instance Michael Marper and "S" are true patriots.

  23. Ian Chard

    When they delete the database

    can I have the servers?

  24. Eddie

    I'm very surprised

    By the vehemence of the statements of the European court - ' "failed to strike a fair balance between the competing public and private interests," and that the UK government "had overstepped any acceptable margin of appreciation in this regard" '(copied from

    With this level of feeling from the Euro court, and given that it was HMG that was defending against this action, so they should have presented all their evidence, I think - and I hope - that our beloved leaders will have their work cut out getting an appeal to go through, but they will no doubt use the years of time that will be created by loathsome lawyers arguing about anything they can to justify millions in expenses, to ensure that the database is vastly bigger than it is now.

    As was pointed out on the Radio 4 news today, the proportion of crimes solved by the DNA evidence is dropping fast - down 12% and 16% in consecutive years.

    This next sentence is going to stick in my throat - I hope that the Tories get into power next time, they at least have the guts to stand up the specious crap that the Police use to justify their increasing abuse of powers (although with the shenanigans that went on with Mr Green, I think there are a large number of MPs starting to question whether they have become too big for their never know, leopards may change their spots)

    Of course, even if they say that they have deleted the records of the innocent people from the database, how will they prove it? And will we believe them?

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    This is why we have a House of Lords and the EU...

    Don't write them all off just yet. The HoL voted down the 42 day detention and forced the HoC to backtrack. The HoL has its uses, and it would definitely be a shame if it was 'reformed' by NuLabour (especially when that means that they can stack the deck in their favour). Leave the HoL alone, they do have a purpose.

    And as much as the EU suffers from over-eagerness and over-regulation more often than not, it does help us as consumers, us as common people, and us as innocents.

    This judgment is a huge win for us. Yes, that means that sometimes suspects slip through the net, but FFS - keeping a DNA profile of someone who is clearly not a danger just because 'it's procedure, we have to do it to make any further issues simpler' is not on. I left countries with overbearing regimes because of this... don't make me leave the UK too.

  26. Nomen Publicus
    Black Helicopters

    Jaqui Smith - Crypto-fascist

    Jaqui Smith is a "clear and present danger" to freedom in this country and should be fired as soon as possible.

    You can't treat everybody as a criminal just on the off chance that they do something illegal at some indefinite time in the future. It's a policy based on fear and paranoia.

    For the sake of the country, Gordon, grow some balls and fire the woman!

  27. James

    DNA - In your Face Jacqui!

    I will enjoy my doob later this evening, oh boy!

  28. A J Stiles
    Thumb Up

    So does this mean

    Great news!

    This might just be the best thing to come out of Europe since sensible measurements.

    Meanwhile, what's your legal position if you were convicted on the basis of DNA evidence that was retained illegally?

  29. John Young

    @"EU as a counter balance... "

    The European Court of Human Rights has nothing to do with the EU.

    Think more Council Of Europe.

  30. Andus McCoatover

    Reg, can we have a Wackie Jacqui icon please?

    No need. She'll be out shortly. Alternatively until the Revolution, we could make do with the one I've used.

    stunning likeness....

  31. Michael Fremlins

    Award the costs against the House of Lords pension fund

    It does seem incredible that the judges in this country fail to protect us from the Nazi tactics of the state. They need to be reminded who pays them.

  32. Nemo Metis
    Thumb Up


    I'm waiting for the last buzzword to appear in context here - Machiavellian. We've had the rest.

    We really, really need a Wacky Jacqui icon El Reg, sort it!

    I think this is a great move, and i didn't see it coming. The first good thing to come out of Europe in forever. Let's hope the law is water tight and hermeticallyt sealed so there is no way around it!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This is really good news and (dispite what the gov/rozzers think) will make the DNA database work much more efficiently once all the noise (innocents) has been removed.

    As an aside, can we have a 'stop requesting new icons' icon?

  34. Luther Blissett


    You thieving nu labour bastards. Not that Luther expects his personal property to be eradicated by Plod, as long as nu labour are paying him to keep it. Next we need this bunch of nu insect overlard lackeys, toadies and recidivists declared war criminals and personna non grata. Too famous to be gulagged, too far gone to be rehabilitated, confiscate their passports and buy them a one-way plane ticket out of the country.

  35. Steven
    Thumb Up

    Thank you again EU

    After the police illegally took my fingerprints and DNA some years back for something I was never even charged with, I'll be glad to have some hope of finally having them wiped from their big brother databse.

  36. Eponymous Cowherd
    Black Helicopters


    This was, apparently, a unanimous verdict by the 17 Euro-beaks, so, hopefully, the chances of El Wacqui and her cohorts overturning this will be slim.

    We all know, however, that El Wacqui will never submit to this ruling. The Gov't will just lodge appeal after appeal, wasting taxpayers money in the process, to ensure that the database stays.

    On another point, If storing DNA profiles on an Über-Database is deemed "a disproportionate interference with the applicants' right to respect for private life", then that must surely call into question the legality of storing biometric data on the proposed NIR? There is little difference in function between being able to ID someone by their DNA (in the DNA database) and ID them by fingerprint (in the NIR).

    Keep banging in the nails. Eventually the lid on the NuLabour coffin will be sealed and we can bury the whole sorry, snooping, bunch of them.

  37. Jimmy Floyd

    Hang on

    I've just had a thought: does this mean that Dominic Green MP has now had his DNA added to the database?!?

  38. Richard Johnson

    criminals in government

    So the government and police have been found to be breaking the law. But they announce they are going to carry on breaking the law while they review the situation. How can that be tolerated?

    By the way, the European Court of Human Rights has nothing to do with the EU.

  39. Mike Richards Silver badge

    ECHR != EU

    They are completely different organisations.

    Having said which - bloody good decision, Jacqui really is having a shitola week isn't she?

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Victory for Liberty

    I'm glad the Court (not that I'm a big fan) voted that the database violated human rights. If there is an expansion then it should be of ALL CONVICTED criminals (I read somewhere today 2 million aren't included on it). Most people I know don't have a good word for the police. The words 'police state' are bandied around a lot as well. It isn't a good state of affairs where there's such a low opinion of the police.

  41. OG


    Another victory for the paranoid and those that have something to hide.

  42. The Other Steve

    Who will rid me of this turbulent pie faced fascist ?

    "The existing law will remain in place while we carefully consider the judgement."

    Let's unpack that a bit, the existing law has just been nullified by the ECHR, it is therefore illegal for the police to continue to retain the DNA records of those who have never been charged with crime (which as of this moment includes Damien Green, MP).

    But JackBoot Smith says she will order the police to continue breaking the law until she's had a bit of a think about it ? Fuck. Right. Off.

    Unfortunately, I agree with Dave, that means she'll keep right on "while we look for a loophole that means we get to keep the database".

    The woman is incapable of realising that she can be wrong, so what happens now is that she will pick up a copy of the HRA, have a read through the many, various and massive loopholes, pick one, and introduce some legislation, or in her case, more likely some kind of emergency regulation that she won't have to consult parliament about that allows her to use one of them to do what the hell she pleases.

    It's disgusting.

  43. Mike Richards Silver badge

    One for the lawyers

    Now the highest court in Europe has concluded that the UK has breached the ECHR, does this mean that anyone else who has had their records retained on the database can sue the government?

  44. Shakje

    Re: Victory for Liberty

    On the other hand, there are more bobbies on the beat round here, and the police are genuinely nice and helpful. The real worry for me is that the actions of Ms. Wacki aren't helping people's opinions of the people that actually do a good job.

  45. Sweep

    @ Great News

    There is a common misconception that if police weren't spending their time doing stuff like handing out flipflops they'd be off apprehending child molesters and solving murders. This is bollocks. What the fuzz would normally be doing on friday and saturday nights is either sitting in a van out the way playing cards or standing in line at the chip shop.

    I work as a bouncer in a pub/club, in Glasgow. If the police here wanted to give out flip-flops to the daft lassies walking home barefoot at 3am I'd be more than happy about it as it;

    a) stops the stupid bints coming moaning to me that their feet are cold/cut/mucky.

    b) gets the lazy pigs out their nice warm vans and out into the cold with the rest of us.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Waiting - buzzword

    Don't you mean Jacquiavellian!

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    > The first good thing to come out of Europe in forever.

    Ooooh apart from perhaps the longest period of peace and stability within the region (member states) since probably about the the 15th Century?

    Personally - with this current bunch of monkeys running/ruining the UK and the opposition looking no better - I'd rather just dissolve the whole UK Gov and become a vassal state of "Europe" thanks. EU Gov have just as many stupid ideas and as much bureaucracy as our own politicos but they do occasionally have some good ideas and by keeping UK Gov we're doubling up on the bureaucracy.

  48. Anonymous Coward

    It'll only get worse

    You're crazy if you think this is a good thing. The judgment was based on discrimination, that is, it's possible that people on the DNAR will be discriminated against in favour of those who are not. Next step for HMG: remove all potential for discrimination by putting the whole UK populace on the DNAR...

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can we please remove both icons and titles please?

    "I strongly believe DNA and fingerprints play an invaluable role in fighting crime and bringing people to justice."

    She just doesn't get it, does she?

    Wacky, we do not give a flying fuck what plays an invaluable role in fighting crime. Our rights are more important than that, CAPISH?

  50. Paul
    Thumb Up

    Not the EU

    @John Young - correct!

    The European Court of Human Rights has nothing to do with the EU.

    It rules on the European Convention on Human Rights.

    The European Court of Justice is the European Union's court - ruling on EU Law.

    I think the confusion of naming is deliberate so the EU mistakenly gets some good press.


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