Destruction of innocent people’s DNA and fingerprints

A new law - the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 - provides that if you have been arrested for a minor offence, but never convicted, any DNA and fingerprints taken from you by the police must be destroyed.

To aid the investigation of crime, every person arrested will have their DNA and fingerprints speculatively searched against the crimes stored on the national DNA and fingerprint databases before deletion.

Read more about the Act's provisions.


The new law is not yet in force, because first DNA and fingerprints taken from innocent individuals in the past need to be destroyed. This will take some time to complete, but the process has now begun and will follow the timetable below:

December 2012 – DNA samples

In December 2012 the destruction of DNA samples (the biological material which contains all of a person’s genetic information) began. DNA samples are being destroyed for all individuals, even those convicted of crimes, because of the sensitivity of the material and the fact that it is no longer needed once a DNA profile has been obtained. Destruction of DNA samples will be complete by May 2013.

To date 439 000 DNA samples have been destroyed.

January 2013 – DNA profiles

In January DNA profiles (a string of 20 numbers derived from the DNA sample) will begin to be deleted from the National DNA Database.

To date 504 000 DNA profiles have been destroyed.

March 2013 – fingerprints

Destruction of fingerprints (hard copies and the electronic records on the national fingerprint database) will begin in March 2013.

Data on the number of fingerprints deleted will be available on this website once deletion begins.

September 2013 – destruction complete

By the end of September, all DNA and fingerprints which do not meet the criteria of the Act will have been destroyed. The deletion process operates on a continuous cycle so that new material, or material which has newly reached an expiry date, will be destroyed as well.

Data on the composition of the National DNA Database once all DNA profiles held meet the criteria of the Act will be available on this website.

October 2013 – laws officially come into force

Once all records held by the police and the databases are in accordance with the new laws, the Act’s DNA and fingerprint provisions will officially come into force.

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