British opposition voices disapproval over mugshot database
27 March 2017 15:53 GMT

Britain’s opposition political parties have echoed the complaints of the country’s biometrics commissioner over the prospect of police storing mugshots in a database.

In a report last week, Professor Paul Wiles, commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material, stated that authorities need to ensure that the use of facial images strikes an acceptable and proportionate balance between public benefit and individual privacy.

He was writing in response to a recently published Home Office review of the use and retention of custody images, which makes proposals as to a future governance of the police use of facial images.

Wiles urged ministers to introduce a ‘presumption of deletion’, forcing the police to prove why any ‘custody images’ need to be retained. There are more than 19 million images in total.

Now other voices are coming out against the database.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party Tim Farron said to UK Authority: “The Tories used to warn about a database state, and now, by stealth they want to create one … “If your mugshot is still on file, and you haven’t been found guilty of anything, you have to ask nicely for it to be removed. This is utterly scandalous.”

However, the newspaper notes that the Home Office has insisted it is impractical to insist police forces go through all 19 million custody images and delete those of people who were not convicted of an offence.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd claimed her proposals struck “a careful balance between protecting individual privacy and giving the police the tools they need to keep us safe”.