22 Jun 2011

COMMISSIONER for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, has urged Government to act in children’s best interests in considering how fingerprint and DNA records of young people are retained.

The European Court of Human Rights said that government should distinguish between adults and young people and those with convictions and those without convictions.

This prompted a consultation by the Department of Justice.

“My job is to monitor government and tell them if they are protecting children’s rights and best interests. For several years I have expressed my concern at the way children’s fingerprints and DNA have been collected and retained,” said Ms Lewsley. “I have now made a series of proposals in response to the current consultation.

“I am particularly concerned that even young people who have not been convicted will have their fingerprints or DNA retained for at least three years and those who have had one conviction for a minor crime will have their DNA profile and fingerprints retained for at least five years”.

“Keeping these records must be in proportion to the gravity of the alleged crime, only kept when absolutely necessary, and in common with all our laws it must be presumed that a young person is innocent until it is proved otherwise.”

The Commissioner also said that there must be strict time limits on how long fingerprint and DNA records are kept, careful monitoring and regulation of requests to extend the DNA retention period and consideration given to removing DNA and fingerprint records when a young person turns 18.

You can read a summary and background of the response here and the full response here in the Consultations section.

ENDS

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