Fingerprinting and photos

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For most offences, if you are arrested and charged the police have the power to take your fingerprints. 

If you refuse, police can use “reasonable” force to take your fingerprints.

Before taking your fingerprints the police must inform you:

  • Why your fingerprints are needed,
  • The offence they believe you have committed or that you have been charged with, and
  • That the fingerprints may be used as evidence in court.

If you are not charged within 6 months or you are found not guilty at court, the police must destroy your fingerprints.


If you’re 15 to 16 years old

If you are 15 or 16 years of age your parents, guardian or an independent person must be with you when the police ask to take, and take, your fingerprints.

If you refuse, police can use reasonable force but they must video or audio tape it.

If you’re 10 to 14 years old

If you are between 10 and 14 years of age, the police must get your consent and the consent of your parents or guardian before your fingerprints are taken. You don’t have to consent.

Under 10

The police cannot fingerprint a child under 10 years of age.



Police will want to photograph you. They may also ask if you have any tattoos, and they will want to photograph those too.

You can refuse to have your photo taken.

The police cannot force you to have your photo taken.

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Fingerprinting and photos

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