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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Privacy and the DNA of the innocent.

The police practice in England and Wales of keeping indefinitely a database of fingerprints and DNA, including information on persons acquitted of any crime, has fallen foul of the European Charter of Rights on privacy grounds, with the European Court finding last week that Britain had "overstepped any acceptable margin of appreciation" in striking a balance between individual rights and public interests."

Media reports here (like this from the Sydney Morning Herald) were based on wire service reports and didn't draw any connections with the situation in Australia. As the Federal Government kicks off a national consultation on whether we should have a bill or charter of rights there are questions about practices here regarding the collection and retention of this type of information.

The Crim Track Agency website doesn't say much about the National Criminal Investigation DNA database so who knows whether DNA samples from people found not guilty is retained.

And a dig around doesn't throw much light on what the situation is with the states.We know that in June 2006 South Australian Premier Rann was very gung ho about police retaining all DNA samples. So was NSW Police Commissioner Ken Moroney in July 2007. The Victorian Police followed suit in September last year.

In July this year, according to 9 News "under current (WA) laws, people suspected of an offence can request their DNA be destroyed if after two years they have not been charged or are found not guilty."

That's about all I can find. A story here somewhere for an intrepid reporter.

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