Research revealed today by the Scottish Liberal Democrats shows that 375,305 images were supplied to the Police National database from Police Scotland’s Criminal History System since 2014, without a clear legislative requirement for their deletion if the person pictured is found to be innocent.
Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP has tabled an amendment to the Scottish Biometrics Commissioner Bill which would see innocent people’s photos deleted after 3 years, in line with current law for DNA and fingerprint retention. It will be voted on at the Scottish Parliament’s Justice Committee this Tuesday.
A 2015 investigation by the Scottish Liberal Democrats found that thousands of pictures of innocent Scots were being stored by Police Scotland for facial recognition searches. This prompted a review by led by John Scott QC, who recommended “a presumption of deletion of biometric data after the expiry of prescribed minimum retention periods.”
Liam McArthur commented:
“The volume of pictures being uploaded to the Police database is startling, and demonstrates how important this resource already is to policing. However, innocent people’s images should not be kept on file forever.
“Facial recognition could be valuable for modernising the way police investigate crime. But unregulated, it is a serious threat to human rights and civil liberties.
“Requiring the police to delete this data after a reasonable period is the common sense move recommended by John Scott in his review. Even the police have said they would welcome new rules to help keep them right.
“The full force of modern technology means it is easy for companies and public bodies to amass a huge amount of data on us in a short space of time, if they are given the opportunity. It is time we gave people more control over their data and better controlled the access that others have. Public bodies should be setting a good example.”