Clause 81 - Restriction on use and destruction of fingerprints and samples

Part of Criminal Justice and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:30 pm on 8th March 2001.

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 4:30 pm, 8th March 2001

I am listening carefully to the Minister, and I am glad that he is taking seriously the matters raised by the hon. Member for Southwark, North and Bermondsey and my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate. He has now come on to the point that the original Court of Appeal decision, which caused the Government to set out on this course, has been reversed in the House of Lords. Perhaps the Government welcomes that. However, if the Government were to rush to corrective legislation every time a criminal were acquitted because some piece of evidence could not be used, we would spend even more time legislating than we now do.

The Court of Appeal came to the conclusion that it did at that stage in that case because the judges believed that the unlawful retention of the samples was fatal. There have been other decisions where it was clear to all that the police had arrested the right person but that person could not be convicted because our law allows a person who may have committed an offence to go free when there have been mistakes by the police or irregularities in the prosecution process. That is an unfortunate consequence of having legal procedures.