Schedule 2 of the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2013 sets out a new framework for the retention and destruction of DNA and fingerprints taken by police in connection with the investigation of an offence. Under the new rules, a large volume of DNA profiles and fingerprints will require to be deleted from the police databases prior to the coming into operation of the legislation, planned for 31 October 2015.
The Department has been made aware of the potential risk the destruction of this material might have on the investigative opportunities presented to the proposed Historical Investigation Unit (HIU), once established, into the investigation of Troubles related cases. To mitigate this risk, it is proposed that the police take a copy of the biometric databases before the deletion process takes place which can then be made available to HIU for its exclusive use until completion of its work.
A Transitional Order will provide statutory cover for the continued retention and use of material within the copy databases that would otherwise fall to be destroyed under Schedule 2 of the Act. The draft order would limit the retention of data within the copy databases to those born on or before the 10th April 1982 (i.e. persons aged 16 years or older when the Good Friday Agreement was signed).