A new report from Britain’s Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material has shed light on UK authorities’ collection of biometric evidence, and raised some eyebrows.
The report revealed that a national counter-terrorism database contains biometric data—DNA and fingerprint samples—of about 7,800 persons. It also illustrated the effects of 2012 legislation requiring the deletion of biometric records pertaining to individuals who haven’t been convicted of any crimes: 1.6 million fingerprints and 1.7 million DNA samples have been removed since the legislation was introduced.
Moreover, authorities recently deleted the biometric data of 450 individuals who had not yet been fully cleared by the police because of “procedural errors and delays”, leading “to the loss of a significant number of biometric records that probably could and should have been retained,” the report said. Commenting on this issue, a National Police Chief’s Council spokesperson suggested that information on these suspects has been shared with “partner agencies,” adding, “Comprehensive measures have been put in place to prevent the loss of further biometric data from individuals of concern” before authorities are able to make a National Security Determination.
The report highlights the current confusion surrounding how police authorities should manage the biometric data collected during investigations, an issue that is unfolding around the world as police and security agencies’ use of biometric profiling increases.
March 11, 2016 – by Alex Perala