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Northern Ireland holding public consultation into police DNA and fingerprint biometrics retention

Categories Biometrics News  |  Law Enforcement


A public consultation into the retention of DNA and fingerprint biometrics has been launched by Northern Ireland Justice Minister Naomi Long, according to a government announcement.

The Minister is seeking views on proposals to amend the law governing biometric data retention by law enforcement, as set out in Schedule 2 of the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2013 (CJA).

“DNA and fingerprints play a valuable role in the detection and investigation of crime,” Long says in the announcement. “These new proposals amend and supplement existing legislation which, when commenced, will provide the future statutory framework for the retention of biometric data in Northern Ireland. This is an important area of public policy and I would encourage all who have an interest to respond to this consultation.”

The proposals would put a definite maximum retention period in place, based on the age and seriousness of the offence, and establish a power with the Department of Justice to legislate a review mechanism requiring police to undertake a periodic review of continued biometric data retention need. Other proposed changes would enable the retention of biometric data to be extended based on the individual being convicted for an offense outside of the UK, a 12-month retention period for data collected in relation to offences ‘left on books,’ and a wider scope for the Northern Ireland Commissioner for the Retention of Biometric Material.

The consultation will run from July 3 to August 28, 2020.

Northern Ireland Police agreed a month ago to delete some DNA records after the European Court of Human Rights found that indefinite storage of the records violates human rights.

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