Liberal Democrats pass manifesto plans to stop police holding images of innocent people

March 14, 2015 2:59 PM
Originally published by UK Liberal Democrats

Signing off their party manifesto plans today, Lib Dems voted in favour of extending safeguards - currently in place for DNA and fingerprint databases - to include the holding of images by police of innocent men, women and children.

The proposals championed by Lib Dem ministers David Laws and Simon Hughes, include extending the regulatory regime for DNA and fingerprint records in the Protection of Freedoms Act to cover all biometric data and other identifiers of innocent people including facial images. The Liberal Democrats will also impose a moratorium on government creating any new databases, or using any new technology that infringes the rights of innocent British citizens, without prior oversight and scrutiny from parliament.

Currently, police forces in England and Wales have an estimated 18 million facial images held in a secretive central database, including images of innocent people with no criminal record. Images of innocent people are being held despite a court ruling in 2012 where the judge ordered forces to revise their policies as soon as possible.

Commenting on the new measures in the Lib Dem manifesto voted through today at their party conference, Lib Dem Minister for Civil Liberties Simon Hughes MP said:

"Treating innocent people as guilty without any sense of fairness and justice goes against the very fabric of our values as nation.

"As the law stands, police forces can hold facial images of innocent people without their consent and use them to identify faces in CCTV footage without any democratic oversight. Developments like this only lead to undermining our faith in the very people tasked with protecting us and sets a worrying precedent.

"As such extending democratic oversight of police powers, as we now propose in our manifesto, strikes the right balance between allowing the police to do their jobs and protecting the rights of innocent British citizens."