NIHRC secures settlement in DNA fingerprint retention case

14 February 2019

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) will be developing a clear policy to address the retention of biometric data, such as fingerprints, following the settlement of a case brought by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

The Commission argued that the retention of DNA/fingerprints and the process they were retained, in this case, violated the right to private and family life as guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

In an interview with the BBC, Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Tim Mairs said the PSNI was looking forward ‘to working with the Human Rights Commission in producing a formal public policy on the retention of biometric data in the forthcoming year.’

The policy will clarify to the public the reasons for collecting and retaining biometric data, how long data can be retained, and how it will be destroyed. Following the settlement of the case, Chief Commissioner Les Allamby acknowledged the importance of retaining DNA or fingerprints to assist with tackling crime, but that, ‘police must strike a proportionate balance when holding on to this sensitive personal material, having fully considered the individual’s right to respect for private life.’

Read more about the facts of the case, including information on current legislation here or watch the video below.

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