MPs raise concern over biometrics and forensics

The Science and Technology Committee has expressed concern regarding the current state of the Government’s approach to biometrics and forensics.

The concerns raised by MPs is the latest in a long line of complaints against the planned and ongoing use of facial recognition.

In the year since the committee published its last report on biometrics and forensics, MPs claim that very little has been achieved by the government, with minsters failing to show leadership and pass what is ultimately an uncontroversial piece of legislation.

The committee added there should be no further trials of the tech until relevant regulations were in place, highlighting genuine concerns over accuracy and bias of the technology. Saying that the government seems unaware that there is a problem, the report further warned that police forces were failing to edit a database of custody images to remove pictures of unconvicted individuals.

Norman Lamb, chair of the Science and Technology Committee, said: “The proper use, provision and regulation of biometrics and forensics are key if the criminal justice system is to function effectively. It is very concerning that the forensics market has, yet again, come perilously close to collapse in the year since we published our last Report. This only serves to exacerbate the continued concerns my Committee and its predecessors have continually voiced about the state of forensics in this country.

“The government might claim to ‘strongly support’ the Forensic Science Regulator Bill but its actions do not meet its words. Now is the time for action. The legal basis for automatic facial recognition has been called into question, yet the government has not accepted that there’s a problem. It must. A legislative framework on the use of these technologies is urgently needed. Current trials should be stopped and no further trials should take place until the right legal framework is in place.”


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