GeneWatch PR: Police privacy pledge welcome, but where is Government?

GeneWatch UK today welcomed the decision by Peter Fahy, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, to sign the Personal Information Promise launched by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) today (1). But the organisation also expressed concern at the lack of government departments willing to pledge to keep people's information safe.

"We hope this signals the start of rebuilding trust between the public and the police regarding the collection and retention of DNA and other records", said Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK.

The pledge signed by the Chief Constable includes a commitment to: "Keep personal information to the minimum necessary and delete it when we no longer need it" (1).

In December 2008, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the blanket retention of fingerprints, computerised DNA profiles and DNA samples collected by the police breached human rights law.

However, GeneWatch criticised the absence of any government departments on the list of signatories.

"Where is the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice, or the Department of Health?" asked Dr Wallace. "The failure to commit to implementing existing legislation adds yet more weight to people's fears about the Government's data-sharing plans".

New data-sharing proposals, which would allow government to share information, including DNA and electronic medical records, across departments and with private companies and foreign governments, are included in the Ministry of Justice's controversial Coroners and Justice Bill.

For further information contact:

Dr Helen Wallace: Tel: 01298-72719; Mob: 07903-311584.

Notes for editors

(1) The ICO's press release is on:

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