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We sought comments on a draft guidance governing the power to make or renew a national security determination allowing retention of biometric material as set out in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.
These are the powers which permit the police or other law enforcement authorities to extend the period of retention for DNA and fingerprints where it is necessary for the purposes of national security.
Included in the draft guidance is information on:
- the scope of the powers
- requirements for making or renewing a national security determination (NSD)
- recording, monitoring and reporting on the of use of the powers
- engagement with Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Data (‘Biometrics Commissioner’)
The consultation will close on Monday 20 May 2013.
Please respond by emailing:
The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (‘the Act’) is an important step in the UK government’s legislative programme to safeguard individual freedoms. The Act fulfils the Government’s commitment (see The Programme for Government (section 3: civil liberties) which states that the government “will adopt the protections of the Scottish model”) to reform the system of retention destruction and use of DNA and fingerprint data by the police and other law enforcement authorities - ensuring that only those convicted of a criminal offence will have their DNA and fingerprints retained indefinitely. It also brings police powers to retain and use biometric material in line with the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), following the European Court of Human Rights’ ruling in the case of S and Marper v United Kingdom.
Under the provisions of the Act, Chief Officers or Chief Constables of the police and other law enforcement authorities may extend the retention period of DNA profiles and fingerprints for up to two years at a time beyond the normal 3 year limit for the purposes of national security by making a national security determination (NSD). Every NSD (made or renewed) is subject to independent oversight by the Biometrics Commissioner, Mr Alastair MacGregor QC.
Before the powers to make or renew a national security determination come into force, the Act requires that the Secretary of State, prepare and consult on the draft statutory guidance to be issued to the police and other law enforcement authorities on the exercise of these powers to retain DNA and fingerprints for national security purposes.
A written ministerial statement announcing this consultation has been laid in Parliament.
Summary of responses
The majority of responses welcomed the introduction of the guidance to ensure that the new powers to make or renew a national security determination allowing retention of biometric material set out in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 are used effectively and fairly. Although respondents generally approved of the content of the draft guidance, a number of changes were also proposed. The department has given careful consideration to the representations received in developing the guidance and has revised it as a result.
The revised guidance will come into force once approved by Parliament. The documents can be found at www.official-documents.gov.uk.