PSNI to provide greater clarity on DNA retention
Police force undertakes to produce policy within a year on holding of biometric data
The PSNI policy will provide guidance to the public on how they can find out if their DNA or fingerprints have been retained, why this is so, and to challenge the decision if necessary.
Police have agreed to provide greater public clarity around their retention of DNA and fingerprint data in Northern Ireland.
The Human Rights Commission in the North recently settled its legal action against the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). The force has promised to produce a formal public policy on the holding of biometric information within a year.
Officers can legally keep the data of convicted offenders. The Commission believed finding out if that had been done, and why, was “unnecessarily difficult”.
Chief commissioner Les Allamby said: “The Commission is pleased that in response to this case the PSNI will now develop a clear policy addressing biometric data retention in Northern Ireland.
“It will make clearer to the public why their DNA or fingerprints may be retained, on what basis this may continue, and how to go about seeking its destruction.
“We are encouraging a quick implementation of this settlement to ensure that human rights continues to be a central tenet of how policing is delivered.”
In December 2017, the Commission issued judicial review proceedings against the PSNI on behalf of an anonymous individual.
That person had raised the refusal of the PSNI to erase fingerprints and DNA, which were retained following an arrest but release without charge in 2009.
The material was held because the individual had been previously convicted of an unrelated common assault.
The new public policy will take into account human rights and will provide guidance to the public on how they can find out if their DNA or fingerprints have been retained, why this is so, and to challenge the decision if necessary, the commission added.–PA