Forensic Science

Home Department written question – answered on 11th February 2004.

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Photo of Hazel Blears Hazel Blears Minister of State (Home Office) (Policing, Security and Community Safety)

Retention periods depend on the purpose for which the sample was taken, and are as follows:

Crime scene samples on unsolved cases may be kept indefinitely, especially for the more serious cases. For crime scene samples on solved cases the usual retention period is seven years, but it may be up to 30 years for the serious cases in the event of a possible miscarriage of justice and to capitalise on new scientific developments.

Following amendment of Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 by the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 samples of suspects can now be held indefinitely.

Where individuals have volunteered to provide samples for intelligence purposes these may also be retained indefinitely provided the individual has given their written consent for its retention.

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