The Home Office Biometrics (HOB) programme will be implemented later than anticipated in March 2025 with huge operational challenges delaying the delivery date.

The deferral will impact a range of business operations that leverage  biometric data services to ensure security to their systems, employees and data.

Costs have been incurred by the postponement with the Home Office confirming the amount to be around £2.2 million, contributing to the overall project spend of £5 million to deliver technical Facial Recognition Matching, Live Scanning and Bureau and SCBP digital transformation to the Cloud.

Sustained supplier challenges in the years 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 have had a rippling effect to extend the deployment phase into future years. A greater funding requirement of £76.7 million was requested to see the service fully delivered to not only create a biometric databank for onboarding to government services but also to share useful identity information with other public sector bodies like the police and other government departments.

Hampering the forecast for 2024, the migration of the Strategic Matcher engine from IDENT1 to a newly developed system will also see significant delays.

It is now clear that Stage 1 will not be completed by the end of the current tender, held by Fujitsu, and will become the responsibility of a new appointed vendor that will takeover the completion of phase 1 and further stages.

Fujitsu was appointed in 2018 securing a five-year £28m contract to deliver the creation of biometric matching technology.

The business case for the HOB Programme was approved on 26 September 2022. The prospect of running the programme by March 2025 will eventually deliver modern police practices of undertaking biometric profiling of potential suspects and offenders by collecting their biometrics to complete facial or fingerprint matching.

The statement says the platform will initially provide capability for facial matching, fingerprints, and DNA, optimising and ensuring interoperability with existing biometric products as well as integrating wider biometric modalities such as voice and iris to meet the high demand.

The capture of biometric data will help the Home office to build a databank of “distinct, digitised, and verifiable identities” that can be shared with other government departments.

The statement confirmed that investigating the accounts for the Programme is a “normal procedure” for significant policy proposals or plans on major projects to assess whether they meet the appropriate standards.

In total, to date the project, which began in April 2014, has cost £1.15bn.