When you are arrested by the police, they will read the caution to you and usually take you to a police station. During this time, they will collect some personal data. Samples from a detainee can only be taken where it is “justified and necessary for preventing, detecting or investigating a crime”.
At the police station, an officer will check your full name, date of birth and address. They may also ask you questions about your health and whether you feel you are a risk to yourself.
Obtaining a DNA sample is usually required to check the Police National Computer (PNC) to see if the profile of the detainee matches anyone already on the system. If the existing identity of the person is known, then this does not need to happen. Once a DNA sample has been processed it is added to the detainee’s profile on the National database. It does not matter if the person is charged or prosecuted- their details will still be added and stored.
An officer will check any belongings which you may have with you. They will request items such as your mobile phone, purse or wallet or any other items you are carrying with you. These should be placed in an envelope and sealed, and unless they are part of a case you are involved in, they should be returned to you.
If you are carrying medication with you, an officer should get a health care professional to check this and ensure you can continue to take this if needed while you are at the police station.
The police may take the following without permission if the offence that the person was arrested for is a recordable offence:
· DNA sample, such as a head hair root, mouth swab or swab of the skin from your arms or hands
The person does not have to have been charged before the non-intimate sample is taken. They can only take one successful sample from that body part during an investigation.
A mouth swab involves a large cotton wool bud being rubbed inside the detainee’s mouth to collect some skin cells. Alternatively, ten hair roots can be taken from the detainee’s head. Any sample is put into a sealed plastic tube once collected.
If the police want to take an intimate sample such blood, urine or take dental impressions, then they need to get the permission of the detainee as well as authorization from a senior police officer. It is because these are more intimate samples that these extra authorisations are needed.
Information will also be collected by the police during the interview, where the police ask you about if and how you were involved in a crime. The police may then give you a copy of the recording of this interview. If they do not, you or your legal representative can request this.
The following information is stored about a person following arrest:
· The arrest summons where relevant
· Their name, date of birth and sex
· Their ethnic appearance
· Information about the sample collected including the same type and the laboratory that tested the sample as well as the test
· The DNA profile revealed by the test
It is possible to find out what information is stored about you on the police database by requesting a copy of your police records from your local police station. This is known as a “subject access request”.
If the police process in relation to a specific offence was unlawful or the particular offence no longer exists, then you can write to the local police station and ask for your personal information to be removed from the police database.
The information on this website is intended as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. Vardags do not accept liability for any errors in the information on this website, nor any losses stemming from reliance upon the statements made herein. All articles and pages aim to reflect the legal position at time they were published, and may have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments in the law. Should you require specialist advice, tailored to your situation, please see how Vardags can help you.