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Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2013

Article 63D – Retention of material: persons arrested for or charged with a qualifying offence

This Article provides for the further retention of material taken from persons (both adults and juveniles) arrested for or charged with, but not convicted of, a qualifying offence. Where such a person has previously been convicted of a recordable offence which is not an excluded offence, his or her fingerprints and DNA profile may be retained indefinitely (Article 63D(2)).

Where such a person has no previous conviction for a recordable offence and is—

  • charged with, but not convicted of, a qualifying offence; or

  • arrested for, but not charged with, a qualifying offence, and prescribed circumstances apply,

the fingerprints and DNA profile may be retained for three years from the date the material was taken (Article 63D(3) – (6)). The three year period may be extended by court order made on application by the Chief Constable to a District Judge (Magistrates’ Courts) for an additional two years (Article 63D(9)). An application can only be made within the three month period before the date the material is due to be destroyed. The retention period cannot be further extended under this process. Either party may appeal to the county court against an order for extension or a refusal to make such an order (Article 63D(10)).

The Article also provides for the Department of Justice to appoint a Biometric Commissioner (Article 63D(11)). The Chief Constable must apply to the Commissioner if he wishes to retain biometric material falling within Article 63(D)(5) on grounds of prescribed circumstances, and the Commissioner may consent to the retention of that material if he considers it appropriate (Article 63D(13)).

The prescribed circumstances are to be set out in an order under Article 63(D)(5)(c), which may also make provision about the procedure to be followed in relation to any application to the Commissioner (Article 63D(13)).

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