Lord Dyson said in the judgment:
“….it is appropriate to grant a declaration that the present ACPO guidelines….are unlawful because, as clearly demonstrated by Marper ECtHR, they are incompatible with the ECHR. It is important that, in such an important and sensitive area as the retention of biometric data by the police, the court reflects its decision by making a formal order to declare what it considers to be the true legal position. But it is not necessary to go further. Section 8(1) of the HRA gives the court a wide discretion to grant such relief or remedy within its powers as it considers just and appropriate. Since Parliament is already seised of the matter, it is neither just nor appropriate to make an order requiring a change in the legislative scheme within a specific period.”
The ACPO guidance challenged allowed police to hold the DNA of everyone who was arrested, subject only to a very narrow test which permits destruction of the sample in ‘exceptional circumstances’.
James Welch, Legal Director for Liberty who intervened in the case said:
“Those who accuse the judges of trespassing on the role of Parliament should take note of this judgment. While our Supreme Court has endorsed the view of the European Court of Human Rights that indefinitely keeping the DNA of almost all people who are arrested is excessive and violates privacy rights, it has properly left the question of how to remedy this to Parliament.”
The Protection of Freedoms Bill contains a new draft scheme on DNA retention and may get through Parliament by autumn of this year. Until then, hundreds and thousands of people whose DNA – according to this judgment – is unlawfully retained will remain on the database.
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Notes to editors: