Taking Fingerprints and Other Samples

In what circumstances are the police allowed to take my fingerprints and other samples?  

The police sometimes need to take samples and fingerprints as part of the investigation process. There are certain circumstances when the police need to have consent in order to take the fingerprints and some samples, however in other circumstances such consent is not necessary. All those circumstances are considered below.


As in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), the police are allowed to take the fingerprints if the suspect is detained for a recordable offence. The police do not need to have the consent for the taking of the fingerprints. The taking of footwear impression is also allowed under this Act. It is also allowed to do some other searches including searches by way of X-ray and ultrasound scans for persons in detention although the police must have a reasonable suspicion that the detained may have swallowed a Class A drug and this person had an intention to commit an offence under the Misuse of Drugs Act. Only qualified persons can carry out those types of searches and they must do this with the use of suitable equipment at an appropriate place. If the suspect refuses to give consent for such searches to be carried out, the court may draw adverse inferences against the suspect in relation to this matter. The police are allowed to keep the fingerprints and the samples for the purposes of speculative searches and investigation of any crime.

Intimate samples

Intimate samples include blood, urine, pubic hair, tissue fluid, and dental impression, swabs taken from the person’s genitals or from any part of them, from a body orifice except for the mouth. Carrying out of intimate searches is also governed by the statute, namely Police and Criminal Evidence Act. The statute imposes conditions which must be fulfilled before such samples are legally taken, these include that the suspect must consent to the taking of an intimate sample.

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For more information on:

  • Non-intimate samples
  • Search of the suspect
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