openDemocracyUK

Illiberal responses to the national debt

Guy Aitchison
17 November 2009

What goodies does tomorrow’s Queen’s Speech have in store then? One of the things it may contain is a proposal that would require innocent people to pay £200 to fight to have their DNA removed from the national database.

According to the Telegraph: “A new power will allow members of the public to challenge a chief constable's refusal to delete their profiles in court - but they will have to pay an application fee to do so.”

Now, we’ve known since December that the Home Office policy of retaining innocent people’s DNA on the National DNA Database is illegal following the European Court of Human Rights ruling in the case of S and Marper (see PolicesStateUK for a summary of the current situation regarding the database and a round up of the principal arguments against keeping innocents' DNA).

So, if this report is correct, then in effect what the government will be doing is legislating to impose a financial penalty on anyone attempting to force the state to meet its obligations under the rule of law.

The government’s plan, announced by the Home Office last week, is to ignore Marper and keep innocents' DNA on the database for six years (indefinitely in cases where an individual was arrested under counter-terror legislation).

But presumably, since UK courts are required to take account of Strasbourg rulings, the new policy will be declared illegal as soon as the first person coughs up their £200 to challenge it.

The likelihood is, though, as Heresiarch points out, that it will never be challenged given that the Tories, who look set to form the next government, are committed to the ECHR-compliant Scottish model of DNA retention.

 

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