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DNA: Databases

Volume 501: debated on Tuesday 24 November 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the judgement of the European Court of Human Rights in S. and Marper v. the United Kingdom has been implemented in relation to the functions of the UK Border Agency. (300239)

The UK Border Agency is mindful of its obligation to ensure that its operations are compatible with the European Convention of Human Rights. The case of S. and Marper found that Article 8 (right to privacy) was infringed by the collection and retention of DNA from those individuals arrested but later acquitted. The Home Office conducted a public consultation exercise from May to August 2009 and the Home Secretary made a written statement announcing the Government's response to the judgement on 11 November 2009, Official Report, column 25WS.

The agency has in place in the draft Immigration Bill, currently under pre-legislative scrutiny, provisions for the laying of regulations specifying retention periods. The agency is formulating a retention policy that will be both mindful of the need to protect people's privacy under Article 8 of the ECHR while at the same time ensure that immigration officers have the necessary tools and powers in which to fulfil their jobs. This policy will be subject to public consultation with various interested groups including the Information Commissioner's Office.

I should like to emphasise however that the UKBA overwhelmingly uses fingerprints, which is less intrusive, rather than DNA for the purpose of immigration control. Where DNA is used, it is done so only on a voluntary basis.