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Articles Local Government & Public Law 2nd Mar 2020

A policy of indefinite retention of convicts’ biometric data found to be unlawful (Gaughran v United Kingdom)

The Police Service of Northern Ireland had a policy of taking photographs, fingerprints and a DNA sample and profile (biometric data) from all persons arrested for a recordable offence and retaining that data indefinitely for those convicted (the policy). The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), applying principles established in its decision in Marper v UK, held that the policy amounted to a disproportionate interference with Mr Gaughran’s right to respect for his private and family life under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). It held that the indiscriminate nature of the powers of retention without reference to the seriousness of the offence or the need for indefinite retention and in the absence of any real possibility of review, failed to strike a fair balance between the competing public and private interests.

This article by Jonathan Lewis was first published by Lexis®PSL on 19th February 2020.


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