Publication Details

Michael, K. (2010). The European court of human rights ruling against the policy of keeping fingerprints and DNA samples of criminal suspects in Britain, Wales and Northern Ireland: the case of S. and Marper v United Kingdom. In S. Bronitt, C. Harfield & K. Michael (Eds.), The Social Implications of Covert Policing (Workshop on the Social Implications of National Security, 2009) (pp. 131-155). Wollongong, Australia: University of Wollongong Press.


In England, Wales and Northern Island, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (the PACE) contained powers for the taking of fingerprints, and samples in the form of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). In 2001, Section 64(1A) of the PACE was substituted with Section 82 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act. The change to legislation meant that a suspect of a crime would have their fingerprints and samples permanently stored on the police national computer (PNC) even after having been acquitted. This paper critically analyses the circumstances of the landmark case of S. AND MARPER V. THE UNITED KINGDOM in two different contexts (i) within relevant domestic law and materials; and (ii) within relevant national and international materials. A comparison is made between the rejection of the application to the Administrative Court on 22 March 2002, a subsequent decision to uphold this ruling by the Court of Appeal on 12 September 2002, and a further dismissal of an appeal by the applicants in the House of Lords on 22 July 2004. This is in direct contrast with a later ruling by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) that was made on 27 February 2008 which in effect rendered Section 82 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act to be in breach of human rights. In closing, the paper considers the reforms instituted by the United Kingdom thus far in response to the ECHR ruling, and their implications on the European Union (EU) at large with respect to elements of the Prum Treaty.