If a person is taken into custody and charged with an offence, police have the power to take all particulars necessary to identify that person. This includes taking the person’s photograph, finger-prints and palm-prints.
Generally, this information will remain on the police record, even after the criminal proceedings against that person have concluded. But is there a way to have these records removed? The short answer is yes, but only in certain circumstances and only by direct request to the Commissioner of police.
If you have been found not guilty of an offence, or the offence is not proven, you can make a request to the Commissioner to destroy your finger-prints or palm-prints.
An offence is taken to be not proven if:
- A person is found not guilty or acquitted of an offence, or
- A person is convicted of an offence, but on appeal that conviction is quashed and an acquittal is entered, or
- 12 months have passed since the taking of a person’s finger-prints or palm-prints, and during that period (provided an extension has not been granted) proceedings in respect of the offence have not been instituted, or have been discontinued
After receiving request that fits into one of these categories, the Commissioner must, as soon as reasonably practicable, destroy the persons finger-prints and palm-prints.
The statutory test for destroying photographs is slightly different. Regardless of whether an offence is not proven, the Commission has the power to destroy a person’s photograph if the Commissioner “considers it to be appropriate” to do so. Again, this must be made by request and the fact that offence has been not proven is likely to assist in ensuring your photograph is destroyed.
If you have been found guilty of an offence, there is no automatic statutory basis to ensure your finger-prints and palm-prints are removed from police records. This includes if you have been found guilty, but no conviction has been recorded against you.
However, the legislation still allows a Commissioner to destroy all particulars if it is considered appropriate. Accordingly, a request can still be made to the Commissioner, but the request should outline the reasons why it is appropriate that this information be destroyed.
We have written to the police Commissioner on a number of occasions to have our clients fingerprints and identification particulars removed. If you are concerned about this, or would like to apply to have them removed, please contact us on (02) 9025 9888 or firstname.lastname@example.org