Press release

Biometrics Commissioner publishes report on issues raised in his 2015 annual report

This further report provides an update on issues raised in the commissioner’s 2015 annual report.

The 2015 report of the Commissioner for the Retention and Use for Biometric Material (‘the Biometrics Commissioner’) was submitted to the Home Secretary on 18 December 2015 and published by her on 11 March 2016.

At paragraphs 142-6, 159 and 168 of that report the commissioner referred to problems that had recently come to his attention as regards:

  1. Procedural errors and handling delays in relation to new material (ie material taken on or after 31 October 2013) which had led, or would lead, to the loss of a significant number of biometric records that probably could and should have been retained on the grounds of national security

  2. The retention of new material on the counter terrorism databases beyond its lawful retention date.

In relation to each of those matters the commissioner said that he had been informed that urgent work was being done to resolve those problems and to prevent them recurring in the future.

He also observed that he would be keeping that work – and those matters more generally – under close and active review.

On 2 March 2016 the commissioner was informed that the Home Secretary had requested a further report from him on the sufficiency of the remedial, preventative and mitigatory work that was being planned and undertaken by the Metropolitan Police Service in connection with the issues referred to above. In response to that request this further report was submitted to the Home Secretary on 22 April 2016. It was published by her on 26 May 2016.

The role of the Biometrics Commissioner was established by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (PoFA) and Alastair MacGregor was appointed as the first commissioner on 4 March 2013. His role is to provide independent oversight of the regime which was established by PoFA – and which came into force on 31 October 2013 – to govern the retention and use by the police in England and Wales of DNA samples, DNA profiles and fingerprints.

In addition to various casework responsibilities in relation to DNA and fingerprints, he also has a UK-wide oversight function as regards their retention and use by the police on national security grounds.

The Biometrics Commissioner’s further report provides an update on issues relating to national security which were raised in his 2015 annual report.

Read the commissioner’s 2015 annual report.

Read his further report.

Any queries in relation to this press release should be made to the commissioner’s media adviser, Justin Hawkins on 07792 551301.