Yesterday was a significant day for anyone who has previously been arrested but had no further action taken by the Police.
31 October 13 marked the introduction of a new legislative regime which helps to strike a balance between the needs of the State to detect crime and the rights of an innocent individual not to have their genetic material retained indefinitely.
Every person arrested and detained in Police custody, in England and Wales, has their fingerprints, photograph and a DNA sample taken. Previously whether you were guilty or innocent the Government would retain that information indefinitely.
With any large database there can be problems leading to concerns about the practice of holding all samples indefinitely. Under the previous system even if you were arrested for a very minor matter and no further action was taken you could still be at greater risk of being arrested in the future because your DNA was on the database.
This risk and potential breach of human rights caused by blanket retention of samples is addressed in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 which limits the circumstances whereby the State can retain genetic material indefinitely.
In preparation for the introduction of this new regime those persons who have had their DNA and fingerprints taken yet never been convicted of an offences have had their samples destroyed.
Under the new regime if you are not convicted or no action is taken the samples will be destroyed after a short period and once a speculative search has been undertaken to see if your DNA matches with any samples from outstanding unsolved offences.
For adults who are convicted and youths who have more than one conviction the genetic material will still be held indefinitely.
For a detailed Government summary on the new Act please click on the link below.
Andy Kerrigan – Head of Crime Team
The content of this news item is for general information only and does not constitute legal advice. It states the law as at November 2013. We recommend that professional advice is sought on this topic and we do not accept responsibility for any loss arising as a result of the use of the information contained in this news item.