Advancing human rights and equality
through public interest litigation

Email  Twitter

NI High Court Rules It Lawful To Keep Criminal DNA Indefinitely

The High Court has ruled that it is legal for the police to indefinitely retain DNA samples and fingerprints of convicted offenders in Northern Ireland. This test case attempted to establish that indefinite retention breached privacy rights, when Fergus Gaughran challenged the PSNI’s retention of his fingerprints, a photograph and DNA profiles. The European Court of Human Rights and the UK Supreme Court have both previously ruled that it is unlawful to keep samples of people who are eventually not convicted. However, there is a distinction in that Gaughran’s challenge came after a conviction for what was alleged to be a relatively minor offence. Gaughran therefore claimed that the offence was not of sufficient gravity to justify indefinite retention of the material. In dismissing the challenge, the court stressed the value of using DNA sampling in the fight against crime.


Criminal Law