Watchdog warns over police database of millions of facial images

Biometrics commissioner says 20m photos held despite retention of images of innocent people being unlawful

An official watchdog has issued a fresh warning over the police’s use of more than 20m facial images on their searchable databases, more than five years after the courts ruled that the inclusion of images of innocent people was unlawful.

Paul Wiles, the biometrics commissioner, says in his annual report that the police’s use of facial images has gone far beyond their original use for custody purposes and forces are using facial recognition software to try to identify individuals in public places.

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