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No, in certain circumstances the police can retain fingerprints / DNA of suspects who are arrested even if they are subsequently cleared of the offence, or a decision is made not to prosecute. The fingerprints / DNA must be used for the prevention or detection of crime, the investigation of any offence or the conduct of a prosecution.

They must however be destroyed in accordance with the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 as soon as is reasonably practicable after their use unless certain conditions apply. Please see the link in Related Information.

The only time fingerprints / DNA must be destroyed immediately is if they were taken unlawfully or from a person in connection with that person's unlawful arrest, or in the case of mistaken identity.

Whether fingerprints / DNA can be retained and how long for will depend on the seriousness of the offence, any previous convictions and whether or not you were charged (see Related Information for a useful table produced by the National Police Chiefs' Council, detailing retention periods). Records held on the Police National Computer (PNC) are to be retained until a person is deemed to have reached 100 years of age.

In certain circumstances a person may apply to have their fingerprints / DNA and associated PNC record removed earlier than the period specified, if they can evidence grounds that are agreed by a Chief Officer. The application form along with guidance on when and how an application can be made can be found on the ACRO Criminal Records Office website (see Related Information).

The Chief Officer has discretion as to whether these are removed but you cannot insist on their destruction and each application will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

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