High Court rejects ex-prisoner's DNA sample challenge

Lawyers argued that the request by police infringed his human rights

An ex-prisoner's legal challenge to a police force request for him to provide DNA samples has been rejected by the High Court.

Lawyers for the ex-prisoner, referred to as R, argued that the request infringed his human rights.

But Lord Justice Pitchford and Mr Justice Hickinbottom, sitting in London, dismissed his application for judicial review.

Lord Justice Pitchford said the request was both "lawful and proportionate".

R is now considering whether to appeal against today's ruling.

The test case was triggered by Operation Nutmeg, under which DNA samples have been collected from prisoners whose crimes pre-date routine collection.

The police force at the centre of the case, which also must not be be named for legal reasons, wanted R's sample as part of the push across England and Wales to collect genetic material from people jailed for serious crimes before 1994.

After that date, people convicted of serious crimes had DNA swabs routinely taken to add to the national database.

Peter Neyroud, former head of the National Policing Improvement Agency head, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Collecting this DNA is worthwhile. It helps solve serious, historic cases. Of the 6,000 samples taken so far there are around 100 matches. I'm sure the police will get something worthwhile in around 50 of these cases. We are talking about pretty serious crimes here."

Stephen Cragg QC, who led today's legal challenge, said: "The claimant in this case accepts he committed a serious crime, but not since 1999.

"Now he has been asked to provide a sample he says his human rights have been breached as he has a right to a private life."

Mr Cragg also questioned whether statistics backed up the police case. He said: "If you take DNA from everybody you will solve more crimes.

"But will this improve the detection rate? It remains a very low rate. Often DNA evidence will throw up red herrings."

Lord Justice Pitchford described in his judgment how R was convicted of manslaughter in 1984.

He was told by police last March that he was required to provide a non-intimate DNA sample to assist with the detection of unsolved crime and as a deterrent to further offending.

His DNA profile was wanted for "speculative checking" with the 158,191 crime scene profiles held in the national DNA database.

When his solicitors challenged the request, R was warned that if he did not consent he would be liable to arrest.

He was granted an injunction to prevent any arrest while he launched his High Court bid - heard in Birmingham - for damages for a breach of his human rights and a declaration that the police demand was unlawful.

His lawyers argued the DNA request infringed R's Article 8 right to respect for his private life under the European Convention on Human Rights, and was also unlawful because he had not been given an opportunity to make representations.

The lawyers conceded that the "requirement" of a sample was for the legitimate purpose of the fight against crime, but argued in R's circumstances the "purely speculative" exercise was a disproportionate interference with his private life.

The judge said R had made a witness statement describing how well into the 1990s he was a heavy drinker who frequently went out with friends and acquaintances drinking and getting involved in petty crime.

Some 13 years ago he had turned his life around, gave up drinking and started his own business. His wife was diagnosed with a life-threatening illness some five years ago and he was now her sole carer.

The judge ruled the initial demand for a sample in March was unlawful because it was made without prior authorisation by a police officer of the rank of inspector or above, contrary to the requirements of the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act, as amended by the 2010 Crime and Security Act.

But a detective inspector made a valid requirement in April.

The judge said the European Court of Human Rights had recognised the importance of technological advances in the fight against crime, and the amended powers were deliberately confined to particular categories of persons.

"We are concerned with those who were convicted of serious offences before it became commonplace to take samples for the production of DNA profiles for the investigation of crime.

"No stigma attaches to the claimant in the present case by reason only of the requirement to provide a non-intimate sample.

"His conviction for serious offences are matters of public record. The claimant is but one of 11,000 people who by virtue of their criminal antecedents were liable, depending upon their individual circumstances, to provide samples for the purpose of speculative checking against the crime scene database profiles."

The judge ruled that the detective inspector "was fully justified in concluding that the public interest in the detection of crime outweighed the limited interference with the claimant's private life".

Mr Justice Hickinbottom agreed and said the requirement of a sample was "clearly appropriate and proportionate".

PA

News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition