If you were arrested but not charged with a qualifying offence at any age, your DNA and fingerprints can be kept for three years if the Biometrics Commissioner allows it, and then for another two years if a District Judge grants an extension, or forever if you have already been...
If you are convicted (even cautions) of any recordable offence as an adult, the police can keep your DNA and fingerprints permanently. The police can also keep your DNA and fingerprints indefinitely if you were convicted of a "Qualifying Offense" (including juvenile cautions, reprimands, and final warnings).
What is a qualifying offense? It is any offense that would permit the court to order detention of the person being charged. This includes all crimes against persons, such as murder, manslaughter, assault, sexual assault, child abuse, and kidnapping. It also includes crimes against property, such as robbery, burglary, and vandalism. Finally, it includes offenses against public safety, such as violations of weapons or drug laws that could lead to imprisonment.
Who has access to my DNA? Any officer who conducts a criminal history records check on you will be able to see on the NCIC database whether your DNA sample is still active. If so, they may have access to it. Generally, only officers with appropriate training and authority to conduct DNA searches will be allowed to do so. However, some officers may use a computer program called "Rapid DNA" to extract DNA from physical evidence that might not otherwise yield sufficient quantity for testing. These Rapid DNA tests require very little material, so they can be used even when testing other than for identity purposes is not necessary. As well, certain laboratory technicians and investigators may have access to your DNA sample.
1.2. The police, on the other hand, can request authorization from the Biometrics Commissioner to store their DNA profile and fingerprint record for up to three years. If the application is turned down, the force is required to delete the DNA profile and fingerprint record.
1.3. The police also have the ability to apply for retention orders for specific items of evidence. These would include requests to retain blood stains that may contain genetic material or traces of drugs in drug-related cases. Retention orders are only valid for a maximum of five years.
1.4. Finally, under current law enforcement agencies can dispose of items that are not subject to criminal proceedings if they meet certain conditions. For example, officers can discard items such as clothing that do not appear to have been used in a crime. Agencies must report to the commissioner on items disposed of pursuant to this rule.
The Police Practices Act requires police to destroy DNA profiles and fingerprints records of persons who are not charged with an offence. This includes anyone who has been given civil commitment powers by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) under the Mental Health Act 1983.
DNA profiling techniques have improved significantly since they were first used in UK police forces. Nowadays it is common practice for investigators to delete DNA samples that cannot be matched to any existing profile.
Most innocent people's DNA profiles and fingerprints will now be automatically deleted from police databases, but those arrested for serious crimes may have their records kept for up to three years, and others may have their records kept indefinitely (for repeated two-year periods) for "national security."
In addition, if a suspect isn't charged with a crime during their first arrest, their DNA profile will be removed from the system after three years. However, if they are subsequently charged with another crime, their DNA profile will be added to the system again.