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Information about police powers to require a person to give samples of their handwriting.


There is no mention of the use of handwriting samples for identification of a suspect in the Crimes Act 1958.


Identification material is defined to include using a sample of a person's handwriting under Commonwealth law.

The police can't force person to provide a handwriting sample unless they are in lawful custody. The person may consent in writing to their handwriting to be sampled.

Police may also take a handwriting sample if they believe that it is reasonably necessary to:

  • establish who the person is
  • identify the person as the person who committed the offence
  • to provide evidence relating to the offence.

When handwriting samples cannot be taken

There are limitations on when writing samples may used. Unless a court orders otherwise, handwriting samples may not be taken if the suspect is:

  • under 10 or
  • incapable of managing their own affairs.

Handwriting samples of person who is not a suspect

A magistrate may order that child who is not a suspect provide a sample of their handwriting.

A person aged between 10 and 18 may consent in writing, but only if their parent or guardian also agrees. If only one of the parties agrees, sample can't be used without a Court order.

More information


Crimes Act 1914 (Cth)

  • s. 3ZJ—taking fingerprints, recordings, samples of handwriting or photographs

See Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).