Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Co Down teenager's legal bid over PSNI retention of DNA and dabs

The Co Down teenager was released without charge, but police have yet to destroy his DNA, fingerprints and photographs
The Co Down teenager was released without charge, but police have yet to destroy his DNA, fingerprints and photographs

A Co Down teenager has cleared the first stage in his legal battle with the PSNI over the retention of his DNA, fingerprints and photographs.

The 18-year-old, who cannot be identified, is seeking a High Court order for the destruction of samples taken after he was arrested for a suspected assault.

Even though he was released without charge, police have yet to destroy his material.

Senior officers have said new legislation which will change this policy is being studied.

But lawyers for the teenager claim his right to privacy is being breached and want a judge to direct it is all binned.

Following submissions, Mr Justice Treacy granted leave to seek a judicial review.

The teenager was arrested in August last year and brought into custody in Belfast.

Samples were taken from him under normal police procedures, despite questions being raised by his lawyer and father.

Following his unconditional release, requests were made for assurances that all material would be deleted.

The case came to court after the PSNI confirmed in a letter that it plans to retain the biometric data for the time being.

The decision followed a meeting of its biometric retention/disposal ratification committee in April.

But the Criminal Justice Act 2013, which requires the destruction of material held on those not charged or convicted of an offence, is being studied.

The teenager's legal team argued this was unlawful and breached the European Convention on Human Rights.

Their challenge will now proceed to a full November hearing.

Outside the court the teenager's lawyer Ciaran Mulholland claimed: "This demonstrates grave flaws with the PSNI's practice and procedure on the retention of suspects' photographs, fingerprints and DNA samples when criminal proceedings are not followed.

"The judge has accepted that there is a clear arguable case."

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