DNA and fingerprints play a valuable role in the detection and investigation of crime. Under the Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1989 (PACE NI), the PSNI have a range of powers available to them to obtain DNA samples and fingerprints in connection with the investigation of a recordable offence. PACE NI also provides the statutory basis for the retention of biometric data once taken by police.
The purpose of this consultation is to seek the views of key stakeholders and other interested parties regarding proposals to amend the provisions within PACE NI relating to the retention of DNA and fingerprints in Northern Ireland.
The proposals amend and supplement existing legislation within Schedule 2 of the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2013 (CJA) which, when commenced, will provide the future statutory framework for the retention of biometric data taken under PACE in Northern Ireland.
The proposals are:
- To replace the indefinite retention of biometric data of convicted persons within CJA with maximum retention periods based on age and the seriousness of the offence.
- A regulation making power that will enable the Department to set out in subordinate legislation a review mechanism that will require police to carry out a periodic review of the continued need for biometric data to be retained under these maximum retention periods.
- A change to the legislation that will enable DNA and fingerprints taken in Northern Ireland to be retained on the basis of a conviction for a recordable offence committed in a country or territory outside the United Kingdom.
- Provision that will enable DNA and fingerprints taken in connection with an offence that has been ‘left on books’ by a court to be retained for a period of 12 months.
- To widen the scope of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for the Retention of Biometric Material to keep under review the operation of Schedule 2 of CJA, once commenced.
The Department would welcome views on the proposals and this consultation will run for a period of eight weeks from 3 July 2020.
All responses should be submitted by midnight on 28 August 2020.
Responses should be submitted via citizenspace on the NIDirect website