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Genetics: Databases

Volume 461: debated on Monday 4 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what personal and biometric data is collected by police when an arrest is made; and how much of this data is retained when a suspect is released without being charged. (140248)

Under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) 1984 the police may photograph any person detained at a police station. They may also take a photograph elsewhere than at a police station of a person who has been arrested for an offence. Photographs taken under these provisions may be retained, regardless of the outcome of the arrest, and shared for purposes relating to the prevention or detection of crime, the investigation of an offence, the conduct of a prosecution or the enforcement of a sentence.

PACE also enables the police to take fingerprints, non-intimate samples, intimate samples and footwear impressions from individuals arrested for a recordable offence. Intimate samples may only be taken on the authority of an inspector (if he or she has reasonable grounds to believe that such an impression or sample will tend to confirm or disprove the suspect's involvement in a recordable offence) and with the person's consent.

Photographs, fingerprints, non-intimate samples and footwear impressions taken under PACE may be retained, regardless of the outcome of the arrest, but cannot be used by any person except for purposes related to the prevention or detection of crime, the investigation of an offence, the conduct of a prosecution or the identification of a deceased person.

Chief constables retain the operational discretion to decide whether or not fingerprints and samples will be retained in individual cases. To ensure national consistency regarding retention and deletion of fingerprints and samples, the Association of Chief Police Officers has devised guidelines for chief officers on the consideration of applications from individuals for the removal of their samples and the procedure that should apply.

Under PACE code of practice C, when a person is arrested and taken into police custody the custody officer must carry out a risk assessment for the individual. This will include seeking information from the detainee around their history and any health issues that the police need to be aware of to enable the safe detention of the individual. This information will be recorded and retained on the Police National Computer.