Identity, Privacy and Trust

Aug 11 2009   7:16PM GMT

So much for the rule of law?

tobystevens tobystevens Profile: tobystevens


I was very disturbed to read the Guardian’s claim that the police have been instructed by the Home Office to ignore the European Court’s ruling that the UK DNA Database breaches human rights law, and instead continue to add information on arrestees to the database:

Senior police officers have also been “strongly advised” that it is “vitally important” that they resist individual requests based on the Strasbourg ruling to remove DNA profiles from the national database in cases such as wrongful arrest, mistaken identity, or where no crime has been committed.

Approximately 10% of the UK population is already recorded in the DNA Database, and that number continues to rise rapidly. I’ve talked in the past about why this disturbs me – it’s not the DNA data itself, but the ability to track familial links, coupled with the inevitable failure of the forensic process for using that data, that will lead to injustice. This latest development is even more worrying, since allegedly senior police officers are obeying Home Office officials rather than the rule of law. If a member of the armed forces is issued an order which they believe to be unlawful, it is their duty to disregard the order and escalate their grievance up the chain of command. Does that not apply to the police in the UK? Or are they now above the law?

[Apologies for going all Daily Express letters page on you all, it’s one of those weeks…]

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