Clause 81 - Restriction on use and destruction of fingerprints and samples

Part of Criminal Justice and Police Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 8th March 2001.

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Photo of Mr Nick Hawkins Mr Nick Hawkins Conservative, Surrey Heath 3:15 pm, 8th March 2001

I will give way in a moment. Before doing so, I want to deal with a matter raised by the Law Society in its briefing to my hon. Friends and me, which it regarded as the most important of its points. It was the first item in that briefing, and that shows how significant the professional body that represents all solicitors in England and Wales considers the matter to be. The briefing states:

``The Bill makes provision for the taking of intimate samples and fingerprints before a person has been charged with a crime. In addition, under the terms of the proposed legislation, the police will no longer automatically have to destroy samples or fingerprints once the individual is cleared of the offence or will not be prosecuted. Their samples and fingerprints may be kept indefinitely.''

The Law Society wants to know whether the public will be aware that, when assisting police, or after being cleared of an offence, such information will be held by the police for future speculative searches in the investigation of other crimes. It also asks whether that will mean that those who might come forward voluntarily would be less likely to do so. We are concerned about law-abiding people being encouraged to come forward voluntarily. The Government are unwise to propose the measure in the way that they have and in such terms.