Reclaim your DNA

The Protection of Freedoms Act requires innocent people's records to be removed from the National DNA database in England and Wales. In most cases this will be done automatically, rather than requiring you to write to the police.

The legal requirements in the Act came into force in October 2013.

In January 2014, the Home Office published the new rules for innocent people applying for early deletion of their DNA and fingerprints from police databases. These are mainly relevant to people arrested for serious offences who may have their DNA profiles and fingerprints retained for up to three years. You can read the Guidance and download an application form.

The Guidance does not cover deletion of Police National Computer records which continue to be dealt with under the old Exceptional Cases procedure. The Guidance suggests that in some cases the police will delete PNC records and other information when they delete DNA and fingerprint records, but there is no policy requiring them to do so.

If you are not sure whether you have a PNC record or not, or whether the police hold your DNA profile or fingerprints, you can make a subject access request. This now costs ten pounds. Information about whether or not the police hold your DNA profile and/or fingerprints is recorded in your PNC record.

Removal of PNC records

Under the Protection of Freedoms Act, most innocent people's DNA profiles and fingerprints will be automatically removed and all DNA samples taken from individuals will be destroyed. However, most innocent people will still have a record of arrest on the Police National Computer (PNC).

People who have not been cautioned or convicted for any recordable offence can apply for their PNC record to be removed by writing to the police force which arrested them and asking for it to be removed under the Exceptional Case procedure. This is an example of the procedure from North Yorkshire Police. The police say exceptional cases will be rare and will be considered where any of the following circumstances apply:

  1. no offence exists (e.g. false allegation / self defence)
  2. unlawful or wrongful arrest
  3. unlawful or inappropriate Caution, Reprimand or Final Warning
  4. unlawfully processed
  5. inappropriately advised re sample retention

You can also write to your MP to ask him or her to support your request for removal of your PNC record and to ask the Government when it will implement its promise to remove innocent people's records from the PNC.

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