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

  • Fingerprints
  • Fingerprinting on arrest
  • Fingerprinting on charge
  • Fingerprinting on conviction of an offence in the UK
  • Fingerprinting on conviction of an offence outside the UK
  • Fingerprints to ascertain identity
  • Procedural requirements
  • Power to require attendance at the police station
  • Retention, destruction and use of fingerprints
  • Advising at the police station

A suspect's fingerprints can always be taken if they consent. Where the suspect is at the police station and gives consent for their fingerprints to be taken, their consent must be given in writing.

In the case of a person who is under the age of 17 but has attained the age of 14, the appropriate consent of their parent or guardian is also required. A person under the age of 14 cannot give consent; the consent of their parent or guardian must be obtained.

If a suspect does not consent, the power to take fingerprints will depend on the circumstances of the case.

Under wide ranging provisions contained in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE 1984) the police can take a person's fingerprints without consent if they have been arrested, charged or convicted of an offence in the UK, convicted of serious offence overseas or if there are concerns about their identity.

Fingerprinting on arrest

A person may have their fingerprints taken on arrest without their consent if:

  1. they have been detained at the police station following their arrest for a recordable offence, and

    1. they have not had their fingerprints taken in the course of the investigation of the offence, or

    2. they have had their fingerprints taken but they are inadequate for analysis or loading onto the Police