By Craig GuthrieThe UK government wants to broaden the scope in which it can request the fingerprint and DNA data of suspected criminals from foreign governments, according to a new statement seen by Planet Biometrics.Last December, Alastair MacGregor QC, the biometrics commissioner, warned in an annual report that thousands of foreign criminals convicted of offences outside England and Wales have had their DNA profiles and fingerprint details deleted from British police databases.Writing in response to the report on 2 March, Lord Michael Bates writes that DNA profiles and fingerprints taken from those with foreign convictions can be retained only if certain conditions are met. The EU also limits the right to request foreign conditions broadly to current investigations or a threat to public security, adds Bates.However, he added that “This Government has widened the cases in which information can be retained on the PNC [Police National Computer] beyond that agreed by the previous government ߪ There will therefore be more situations in which the foreign conviction is available to the police.”The UK government will also consider legislation that extends the types of arrest following which police can retain biometric data such as DNA and fingerprints, added the statement.Bates said that he has asked his officials to study crimes such as the import of class a drugs and knife offences to a list of “qualifying offences”.Normally the biometric data of people without previous convictions is deleted once an investigation is completed, unless it involves one of these qualifying offences. If it is, the data can be held for three years.In his response, Bates also agrees to launch a review on custody images and facial recognition following the commissioner's concerns over the matter.In March, following the commisioner's report, a parliamentary committee said it was “alarmed” that the British police had begun uploading custody photographs of people to a Police National Database and using facial recognition software on the images without any regulatory oversight.”When biometric systems are employed by the state in ways that impact upon citizens' civil liberties, it is imperative that they are accurate and dependable”, said the committee, calling for stronger regulation and a broader jurisdiction for the Biometrics Commissioner. –