The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) appears set to begin the ‘real-time’ deletion of its database of drunk drivers’ biometric data following a recent ruling from the European Court of Human Rights earlier this year.
The court ruled in favor of Fergus Guaghran, who pleaded guilty to drunk driving following his arrest in 2008. Mr. Guagran, who served his penalty of a one-year suspended license, argued that his biometric data was being held indefinitely without any reference to his offence’s severity.
According to the ruling, the indefinite storage of a convicted drunk driver’s biometric data — as well as their photo and profile — cannot be held without any reference to the severity of their offence, and is a violation of their human rights and their right to privacy and family life.
As The Irish Times reports, this latest decision overturned a prior UK supreme court ruling that said that the value of the retention of biometric DNA profiles of convicted individuals far outweighed the infringement of their individual rights, and was in fact in keeping with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act of 1984 (PACE).
With regards to the deletion of the records, PSNI Chief Simon Byrne said to the Policing Board that the force was expecting to begin doing so on a case by case basis in September of this year. Byrne also called on the Northern Ireland Department of Justice and The Northern Ireland Office to work together in the development of legislative documents that will seek a balance between the needs outlined in Articles 2 and 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights concerning safety and privacy.
“The police service will of course continue to support this critical piece of work and are actively engaged with both partners,” said Byrne. “PSNI will also seek the views of Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.”
“The commission has engaged extensively and productively with the PSNI towards publishing a clear and public policy on the retention of biometric material including provision for review,” commented Commission chief Les Allamby. “As a result of the Gaughran case, there will be a need to develop both legislation and further revised policy guidance urgently to ensure the rules and circumstances for keeping biometric data meet human rights standards.”
Source: The Irish Times
June 2, 2020 – by Tony Bitzionis