Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

This Act purports to strike a balance between protecting the privacy and human rights of the public on the one hand, and protecting them from crime by keeping DNA and fingerprint databases on the other hand. Instead of the police retaining every bit of information that they manage to get their hands on, there are now rules relating to the length of time this material may be kept. The provisions are:-

DNA Samples

These should be destroyed within 6 months of their being taken from an individual. This is meant to allow sufficient time for the sample to be analysed and the DNA profile added to the database. There are provisions for extending the 6 month period.

DNA Profiles and Fingerprints

All of this material is stored electronically. The period they can be kept depends on what happens to the individuals.


If you have been convicted of an offence, and you are an adult, then this material can be kept indefinitely. If you are under 18, but have been convicted of a qualifying offence (serious, violent or sexual offences, terrorism offences and burglary offences) then the information can be stored indefinitely. If you are under 18 and it is a minor offence that you are convicted of, then on a first conviction the material can be kept for 5 years (plus the length of any custodial sentence), or for an indefinite period if the custodial sentence is 5 years or more. On a second conviction the material can be kept indefinitely.

Non Convictions

If arrested and charged for a qualifying offence then the material can be kept for 3 years with the prospect of a 2 year extension being ordered by the Court. If you are arrested but not charged for a qualifying offence, then there is the possibility of retaining the material for 3 years on an appliction being made to the Biometrics Commissioner with the prospect of a 2 year extension. The material can be kept indefinitely if the person had a previous conviction for a recordable offence. If, for a minor offence, you are given a Penalty Notice for disorder the material may be kept for 2 years, but if you are arrested or charged for a minor offence the material cannot be retained save for being the subject of a speculative search.

Once a speculative search has been completed a person’s DNA profile and fingerprints must be deleted.

If you have been arrested for a minor offence but never convicted prior to the Act coming into force then any DNA and fingerprints taken from you by the police must be destroyed. A speculative search will have been carried out before this destruction takes place.

If you are concerned about the police complying with the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 in respect of any samples, profiles or fingerprints taken from you, then you may seek clarification from the police by writing to the Chief Constable of the force that was responsible for taking the samples in the first place

Contact Dennis Clarke to discuss your needs and agree a fee structure to deal with this.

Clarke Kiernan, Criminal Law Solicitors,

1 Lamberts Yard, Tonbridge, TN9 1ER

Phone: 01732360999, Fax : 01732353835, fraud@clarkekiernan.comMap