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Clause 18

Part of Counter-Terrorism Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:15 pm on 29th April 2008.

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Photo of Tony McNulty Tony McNulty Minister of State (Security, Counter-terrorism, Crime and Policing), Home Office 5:15 pm, 29th April 2008

Clause 18 puts DNA and fingerprint material that is not currently subject to statutory restriction on a statutory footing to permit law enforcement use for certain purposes. That material includes—I need to determine whether this is the definitive list, because I am not sure whether it is—samples obtained covertly under part 3 of the Police Act 1997 or part 2 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000. For example, under the 1997 Act, a warrant may give the police power to enter someone’s home and take away property to obtain a sample. RIPA authorises both covert surveillance and the use of covert human intelligence sources. A good example is when a person under surveillance discards a cigarette or drinks container, which can then be collected covertly and a sample taken. It also includes material supplied by another law enforcement authority, which by virtue of clause 18(5) includes both domestic and foreign law enforcement authorities—for example, the French police, but I do not know why.

Finally, it applies to samples otherwise lawfully obtained in the interest of national security for the prevention or detection of crime, the investigation of an offence, the conduct of a prosecution or for purposes related to the identification of a deceased.  Such material might include material obtained during a criminal investigation other than through the exercise of covert powers—for example, material lawfully provided by a body other than another law enforcement authority, such as the intelligence services of another state.

I hope that my introduction has been useful and I shall make one last point before the hon. and learned Gentleman replies to the substantive debate on the amendments. We are putting this into statute to clarify that the retention and use of such material is in accordance with our obligations under article 8 of the European convention on human rights, which stipulates that any interference with an individual’s privacy must be

“in accordance with the law.”

For covertly-acquired material particularly, the law should set out how and when such material should be used. In the same way that we have standardised the purposes for which PACE, PACE (NI) and Terrorism Act 2000 samples can be used, that is what we have sought to do here. I hope that that is a useful introduction before we come to the substance of the amendments.