Biometrics: Databases

Northern Ireland Office written question – answered on 2nd December 2015.

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Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird Non-affiliated

To ask Her Majesty’s Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Dunlop on 4 November (HL3009), why investigation of historic crime in Northern Ireland, including the retention of fingerprint and DNA samples from non-convicted individuals, requires different provisions to the rest of the UK, and whether they plan to seek permission for any non-compliance of those provisions with Article 8 of the ECHR.

Photo of Lord Dunlop Lord Dunlop The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland

The investigation of historic deaths creates particular difficulties because the evidential trail has significantly narrowed. Forensic evidence, including fingerprint and DNA evidence, is therefore a key element in Troubles-related investigations, as it presents the strongest strand of investigative opportunity.

Dealing with the legacy of Northern Ireland’s past is an essential part of the transition to long term peace and stability – this is not a consideration which applies in the same way in the rest of the UK. It is disappointing that agreement was not reached in the recent political talks on the proposed institutions for dealing with the legacy of the past in Northern Ireland.

The Government remains fully committed to working alongside the Northern Ireland parties, victims groups and other stakeholders to deliver the institutions intended to achieve broad consensus for legislation and deliver new legacy mechanisms. The Government is satisfied that the retention of relevant biometric data for the purpose of investigating Troubles-related crimes is proportionate.

We are working closely with the Northern Ireland Department of Justice to ensure that any proposal to retain relevant data will strike the appropriate balance between Article 2 and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights and be compatible with the judgment of the European Court in Marper.

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