Identifying material

Contributed by AndrewRobson and current to 27 July 2018

To establish whether a person has committed an offence the police may seek to obtain a sample of identifying material from a person.

The obtaining of identifying material is governed by the Criminal Investigation (Identifying People) Act 2002 (WA). Identifying material may be photographs, fingerprints, feet or ear prints, mouth swabs, hair samples, blood samples, or dental impressions. One method the police use to link a person with an offence is to match a person’s DNA with DNA found at a crime scene.

The police have the power to collect identifying material including DNA samples from current and former offenders and people charged with offences, provided that the requirements of the Criminal Investigation (Identifying People) Act 2002 (WA) are met.

The police can also take a DNA sample or other identifying material from anyone who agrees to the sample being taken. A DNA sample can be obtained from an individual’s mouth cells, hair or blood, depending on the circumstances.

If you are a suspect or a person charged with a serious criminal offence, you may be asked to volunteer a DNA sample or other identifying material. A serious criminal offence is one that carries 12 months or more imprisonment. If consent is refused or withdrawn, a police officer may seek authorisation to obtain a DNA sample. For a non-intimate DNA sample such as a mouth swab, authorisation may be given by a senior police officer. In all other cases, a warrant would be required.

Even if you do not give your consent, you will generally be required to provide a sample If you are suspected of but have not been charged with, committing a serious offence AND you have been ordered to give a mouth cell sample, or hair sample, OR a warrant is obtained for a blood sample or pubic hair sample; if you have been charged with a serious offence – under s 52A Criminal Investigation (Identifying People) Act 2002 (WA); or if you have been convicted of a serious offence within the last six months.

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