October 24, 2014 -
A recent UK Home Office consultation sought views on new guidance for police chief constables considering applications from the public to have their DNA and fingerprints deleted before the legal retention period expires.
UK Biometrics Commissioner Alastair R. MacGregor responded to the consultation by stating that early deletion of biometric data should take place if no crime was committed, and also if a malicious or false allegation was made. The Commissioner also recommended that early deletion should take place if a proven alibi was established or if suspect status was not clear at the time of arrest.
Further, the Office of the Biometrics Commissioner stated that early deletion of biometrics data should occur under judicial recommendation or if a conviction of another person occurred for an offence.
The responses of the Biometrics Commissioner on early deletion of biometrics data is in accord with the position of several civil liberties groups who have argued that biometrics should only be retained beyond the conclusion of relevant criminal investigations. Those groups contend that such retention should only be proportionate, especially if there are compelling reasons to believe that the public interest will be served by their retention.
The Biometrics Commissioner is independent of the UK Government. His role is to keep under review the retention and use by the police of DNA samples, DNA profiles and fingerprints. The post was created in 2012 under the Protection of Freedoms Act.