Destruction of fingerprints and DNA samples
Destruction of fingerprints and DNA samples

The following Corporate Crime guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Destruction of fingerprints and DNA samples
  • Retention and destruction of fingerprints and samples under PACE 1984
  • Retention and destruction of fingerprints following implementation of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012
  • Retention and destruction of fingerprints and DNA relating to offences outside of England and Wales
  • Procedural requirements of the Criminal Procedure Rules

Retention and destruction of fingerprints and samples under PACE 1984

The procedure for the taking, retaining and destroying fingerprints, footwear impressions, DNA samples and the profiles derived from those samples was set out in Part 5 of Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE 1984). Following the implementation of PACE 1984 and the Codes which support the Act amendments to the regime were made by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 (CJPOA 1994) which enabled DNA samples to be taken from anyone charged with, reported for summons, cautioned or convicted of a recordable offence; and allowed profiles obtained from such samples to be retained and speculatively searched against other profiles obtained from victims or scenes of crime.

A recordable offence is defined in PACE 1984, s 118. All offences which are punishable with imprisonment are recordable offences. A further 60 non-imprisonable offences are specified in the regulations made under PACE 1984, s 27.

If the person was acquitted, samples and profiles were required to be destroyed. In April 1995 the National DNA Database in England and Wales was created following the implementation of CJPOA 1994.

The Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 (CJPA 2001) further amended PACE 1984 so as to remove the obligation to destroy a DNA sample or profile when a suspect was not prosecuted for or