Communtity Law Manual | Police powers | How long DNA profiles and samples can be kept for

DNA samples: When you have to give a sample

How long DNA profiles and samples can be kept for

Criminal Investigations (Bodily Samples) Act 1995, ss 60-63

This section explains what happens to DNA information (“profiles”) and samples taken by the police and how long they can be kept for.

Samples taken from suspects with their consent or by court order

The following explains what happens to your sample and records, including your DNA profile, if the sample was taken with your consent or under a court order while you were a suspect in a police investigation:

  • If you’re not charged, the police have to destroy the sample and records two years after the date the sample was taken, unless a judge allows a longer time.
  • If you’re charged but the police withdraw the charge or you’re found not guilty, the sample and records must be destroyed as soon as practicable.
  • If you’re convicted, what happens depends on the type of offence:
    • If you’re convicted of a jailable offence, your DNA profile and other records can be kept indefinitely (although the sample that was taken from you must be destroyed as soon as possible after the time allowed for you to appeal your conviction has passed).
    • If the conviction isn’t for a jailable offence, the sample and records must be destroyed as soon as possible after the time allowed for you to appeal your conviction has passed.

Samples required by the police while you were under arrest or about to be charged

The following explains what happens to your sample and DNA profile if the sample was taken by the police because they had arrested you for a jailable offence or because they intended to charge you with a jailable offence. In all cases the sample itself has to be destroyed as soon as practicable after a DNA profile is obtained from it.

As for the DNA profile and other records, the following rules apply:

  • If you’re not charged with the offence, the records must be destroyed two months after the sample was taken.
  • If you’re charged but the police withdraw the charge or you’re found not guilty, the records must be destroyed as soon as practicable.
  • If you’re convicted of the offence, the records can be kept indefinitely.

Samples collected for the databank by consent or under a compulsion notice

If you agreed to give a sample for storage in the DNA databank, then at any stage you can write to the police to have your DNA profile taken off the databank.

If you gave a sample for the DNA databank under a compulsion notice after being convicted of a jailable offence, your DNA profile will be held in the databank indefinitely.

DNA samples taken from young people

There are special time limits for keeping DNA profiles obtained from young people.

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