The DNA database breached the human rights of two men who were not convicted of a crime, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.
The court said that the men's DNA and fingerprints should not have been retained by the police, with judges saying keeping the information "could not be regarded as necessary in a democratic society," the BBC reported.
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The judgement could have major implications for the database which currently holds information on 4.5million people, a fifth of which do not have a criminal record. The decision from the 17 judges was unanimous.
The men, from Sheffield, were arrested but not convicted of crimes and have been awarded £36,000 in damages each. They had argued that holding their information was discriminatory and infringed on their right to a private life. They took their case to the European Court of Human Rights after the House of Lords threw it out.
The government currently keeps the DNA and fingerprint information of anyone who is arrested for a recordable offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It says the DNA from people without convictions can sometimes be linked to later crimes, justifying the practice.
But the human rights judges said it fails to strike a balance between the public and the private life.