UK Home Office launches public consultation on biometric data retention

March 26, 2013 - 

The Secretary of State for the United Kingdom’s Home Office, Theresa May, has published a letter launching a public consultation on the length of time biometric data can be retained where it is necessary for national security.

“The use of DNA and fingerprints by our police and other law enforcement agencies is a vital tool in the fight against crime and combating threats to our national security,” the letter states. “However, in discharging our duty to protect the public, we will not undermine the importance of our historic freedoms. The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 changed the law to ensure the public is safeguarded while also protecting those innocent people whose DNA is taken and held by the police. The new framework provided by the Act for the retention, destruction and use of such material provides the necessary balance between public protection and individual freedoms.”

This draft guidance is aimed at providing clear parameters to police in regards to data collection and retention and sets our both the principles and procedures required for making a national security determination under the provisions of the act.

According to the letter, public consultation ends in May.

Earlier this month, Alastair MacGregor QC was appointed the new Commissioner for the retention and use of biometric material. MacGregor is now the sole decision maker in reviewing decisions to retain material for national security purposes and in determining applications made for the retention of material relating to individuals arrested but not charged.

To date, 504,000 DNA profiles have been deleted from the National DNA Database and 439,000 DNA samples destroyed.

Reported previously in, The UK’s Home Office recently posted a tender notice looking to procure a facial recognition system and workflow for its Identity and Passport Service.

According to the tender, “the architecture will comprise a facial recognition engine, and a facial recognition workflow capability which includes business rules, management information, audit and a data interface from an existing application system.”

The tender has been split into two lots: the engine, and the workflow, and companies are allowed to bid for either or both.


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About Adam Vrankulj

Adam Vrankulj is an editor for His background consists of online news writing, editing and content marketing. Adam has written for, BlogTO and was the editor and curator for the nextMEDIA and CIX Source publications. He has a degree in journalism and is passionate about science, technology and social innovation. Contact Adam, or follow him at @adamvrankulj