McVeigh, O’Neill and Evans v United Kingdom: ECHR 1981

(Commission) The Commission was asked whether the retention of fingerprints or samples amounts to an interference with the right to respect for private life.
Held: A distinction was made between the taking of fingerprints, photographs and records, and their retention. As to retention: ‘it is open to question whether the retention of fingerprints, photographs and records of such information amounts to an interference with the applicants’ right to respect for private life under Article 8(1) of the Convention.’
As an island nation it has long been the British way to concentrate controls at its national frontiers, and to maintain a correspondingly greater freedom from random checks inland. This is not always the practice adopted in continental countries which have long land frontiers. But our geography gives us a unique opportunity to target checks where they are likely to be most effective; namely at the ‘choke points’ provided by our ports and airports. That, of course, is where immigration and customs controls are also to be found. But it is only by virtue of the PTA [ie the then Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989] that the police have any power to stop and question people passing through ports. Immigration checks on EU nationals having in most eases been reduced to a simple passport check, only a separate police check is likely to identify a terrorist suspect if he is a national of an EU country.’


(1983) 5 EHRR 71, (1981) 25 DR 15, 8022/77, 8025/77, 8027/77, [1981] ECHR 11, (1982) DR 25




European Convention on Human Rights 8


Human Rights

Cited by:

CitedS, Regina (on Application of) v South Yorkshire Police; Regina v Chief Constable of Yorkshire Police ex parte Marper HL 22-Jul-2004
Police Retention of Suspects DNA and Fingerprints
The claimants complained that their fingerprints and DNA records taken on arrest had been retained after discharge before trial, saying the retention of the samples infringed their right to private life.
Held: The parts of DNA used for testing . .
CitedMarper v United Kingdom; S v United Kingdom ECHR 4-Dec-2008
(Grand Chamber) The applicants complained that on being arrested on suspicion of offences, samples of their DNA had been taken, but then despite being released without conviction, the samples had retained on the Police database.
Held: . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Human Rights, Police

Updated: 11 June 2022; Ref: scu.199814