If you have been arrested for a recordable offence, then the police will have the right to take a DNA sample and fingerprints.

The police can retain your DNA and fingerprints in certain circumstances, but there a number of situations where the police must delete your DNA and fingerprints.

What is Actually Kept?

The law requires all DNA samples to be destroyed within 6 months of being taken (unless the sample is needed for court proceedings). This allows time for a DNA profile to be produced to be added to the National DNA Database (NDNAD).

DNA profiles are stored on the NDNAD and consist of a string of 10 pairs of numbers (though this will be increasing to 17 in the near future) and 2 letters (XX for women, XY for men) to indicate gender.

Fingerprints are usually scanned electronically from the individual in custody and the images stored on IDENT1, the national fingerprint database.

When can the Police Retain my DNA and Fingerprints?

The police can indefinitely retain your DNA and fingerprints if, as an adult, you were convicted (including cautions) for any recordable offence.

The police can also retain your DNA and fingerprints indefinitely if you were convicted (including youth cautions/reprimands/final warnings) for a “Qualifying Offence”.

A Qualifying Offence is a more serious offence such as murder, manslaughter, rape, wounding, assault occasioning grievous bodily harm, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, robbery and burglary. Also included are numerous sex, indecency and firearms offences. There are currently are over 400 qualifying offences.

Also if you are a youth and have been convicted of a “Minor Offence” then on your first conviction your DNA and fingerprints can be retained for five years plus the length of any prison sentence, or indefinitely if the prison sentence is more than five years. On a second conviction retention is indefinite. A Minor Offence is any recordable offence that is not a qualifying offence.

What if I was never Charged or Convicted?

Charged but not convicted

If you were charged but not convicted of an offence, at any age, then your DNA and fingerprints can be retained for three years, plus a two year extension if granted by a District Judge, or indefinitely if you have previously been convicted of a recordable offence which is not “excluded”. An excluded offence is any recordable offence:

  • That is not a qualifying offence.
  • That was committed when the person was under 18 years old.
  • For which the person was not given a custodial sentence of more than 5 years
  • That is the only recordable offence of which the person has been convicted.

Arrested but not charged

If you were arrested for, but not charged with a qualifying offence, at any age, then your DNA and fingerprints can be retained for three years only if the Biometrics Commissioner permits it, and then a further two years if an extension is granted by a District Judge, or indefinitely if you have previously been convicted of a recordable offence which is not “excluded”.

Arrested for or charged with a Minor Offence

If you have been arrested or charged, but not convicted, of a minor offence the police may not retain your DNA unless you have had previous conviction for a recordable offence which is not excluded.

Prior to deletion of DNA and fingerprints the police will conduct a speculative search against an individual’s DNA and fingerprint records to see if they are linked to any active investigation.

Penalty Notices for Disorder

If you have been given a Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND) then your DNA and fingerprint records will be held for two years.

Early Deletion of DNA and Fingerprints

It is possible to apply for the “Early Deletion” of your DNA and fingerprints before the end of your retention period. Early deletion is possible if you can provide evidence for grounds for deletion and:

  • You have no previous convictions and your biometric information is held due to a Penalty Notice for Disorder (PND); or, 
  • You have no previous convictions and your biometric information is held as a result of you being arrested and charged with a Qualifying Offence but you were not subsequently convicted.

Early Deletion of PNC Records and or DNA/Fingerprints

If would like your fingerprints and DNA records deleted from police systems, or if you have PNC or local PND records that you would like to be expunged, then we are able to help.

Please note we are not able to apply to have convictions deleted from the PNC. Court convictions need to be challenged via appeal to the Crown Court or Court of Appeal, you may also be able to appeal to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC).

For applications for deletion of police records, we are usually able to charge fixed fees. Please get in touch to arrange an initial fixed fee consultation.

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