Student handed victory after fingerprint mix-up

A STUDENT who was wrongfully arrested after a bungled police investigation has won his battle with the Government's Big Brother.

Stunned David Atkinson found himself at his local police station under suspicion of stealing Christmas cards he last saw when he put them in a postbox five years ago.

Due to fingerprints found on the mail – which was stolen then recovered – police thought they had their man.

However, it transpired the "suspect's" fingerprints were those of the student who had innocently sent the cards to relatives when he was 15.

And now – six months after The Gazette revealed the mix-up – the battling Thornton student has been told his DNA samples will now be removed from the police national computer.

A triumphant David, of Exeter Drive, said: "I have been fighting for this for six months and I see it as a bit of a victory.

"I was expecting it to drag on for quite a while but I got the letter on Saturday from Lancashire Police saying my details would be removed.

"I am still angry at what happened and the negligence of the police who didn't do their investigation properly. I have no faith in the police."

David, 21, was arrested because his DNA and fingerprints had been kept on record under controversial Government laws to combat terror. It was only after Mr Atkinson asked officers to look more deeply into the crime his innocence was proved.

Mr Atkinson had previously been arrested in March 2005 on suspicion of criminal damage – but, when the real culprit gave himself up to police, he was released without charge.

During his short time with the police, he had his fingerprints and DNA taken as part of the arrest procedure but, under new laws, all details – no matter whether the person is innocent or guilty – are kept on a national computer.

Gloves

However, his perseverance has finally paid off.

He added: "I suppose I can laugh at it now but if it had been someone else who may not have been as persevering as me then it might have been a different outcome.

"I refused to admit to a crime I had not committed and I am glad it is all over now.

"I wasn't against the laws previously but when you become a victim of it, it changes your mind. I won't trust the police again.

"I will still send Christmas cards by post – I'll just have to put rubber gloves on in future."

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: "Mr Atkinson made it quite clear that he wanted his personal data removed from the national database and we are pleased to grant that wish."

ben.rossington@blackpoolgazette.co.uk