Innocent at risk from facial recognition database

Biometrics Commissioner Paul Wiles has warned that the growth of the police facial recognition database could leave innocent people being unfairly targeted.

With the Police National Database (PND) reportedly having at least 19 million custody photographs on it, Wiles told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that technology is moving at a much faster pace than legislation, meaning that pictures of people who are entitled to the presumption of innocence are being kept on the database for up to six years.

The Home Office has said that those who are not convicted have the right to request that their custody image is deleted from all police databases, with maintaining the images in breach of human rights.

Wiles was quick to commend the use of biometrics, such as voice and facial recognition, but said that there is currently a 'legislative deficit' concerning there use which needs to be addressed first.

Renate Samson, chief executive of Big Brother Watch, said of the warnings: "It is of very serious concern that the Home Office appear to be so unwaveringly set on embedding facial biometric recognition technology into policing without debate, regulation, legislation or independent scrutiny."

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