Monday, June 25, 2012

Police forced to destroy all mugshots of innocents

  • UK's most senior judges rule it 'unlawful' for police to hold onto the data of innocent citizens
  • Police will have to destroy photographs of suspects later cleared of wrongdoing
  • Civil rights campaigners trumpet judgement a major victory against creation of Big Brother society
  • Judges reject Met Police's argument keeping images was vital in fight against crime
  • Police had previously been told by court keeping DNA and fingerprints was unlawful

  • Police will have to destroy mugshots of innocent people following a landmark case brought by a 15-year-old.The boy went to court after being told his image would be held until he reached 100 – even though no charges were laid against him.The High Court ruled yesterday that retaining photographs of suspects who have never been charged was a breach of their human rights.
    Police forces will now have to trawl through their records deleting images, including those of people cleared at trial.
    The teenager from Peckham, South London, was arrested on suspicion of rape in April 2009 but no charges were brought when a witness failed to confirm an offence took place.When he asked to have his details removed he was told the mugshot could be retained until he reached the age of 100. He was 12 at the time.


    Police have faced a series of allegations, over recent years, of creating a Big Brother society after obtaining and keeping innocent citizen's private information.
    The Met Police were accused of a ‘back-door surveillance scheme’ after it emerged there were harvesting millions of pieces of mobile phone data from people who have never been convicted of any crime.
    Officers could also access and copy website histories and email content from smart phones, including records of activity on Facebook and other social networking sites.
    The data, will be stored indefinitely, even if the suspect is either released without charge or, when prosecuted, cleared by the courts, police said.
    Under the £50,000 scheme, some 16 terminals designed to harvest the mobile phone data, have been placed in police stations across London and 300 officers trained to use them.
    In 2008, the European Court order police to delete the DNA and fingerprints held on a national database from suspects later cleared of wrongdoing.
    The damning verdict, the 17-strong panel said keeping the records 'could not be regarded as necessary in a democracy'.
    Before 2001, the police had to destroy DNA samples of individuals acquitted or not charged. 
    But a rule change has allowed them to keep profiles of everyone arrested for a recordable offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
    The details of about 4.5million people are held on the database yet one in five - including 40,000 children - had never been charged with an offence.
    At the time the Home Office said the register has proved a key intelligence tool in solving 3,500 cases - including high-profile rapes and murders.

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