The Home Office is facing the prospect of an investigation by the Commons Science and Technology Committee over a police database containing the mugshots of 20 million Brits, which the High Court ruled unlawful six years ago.
The database - featuring images of one-third of the UK population - is largely populated by the face-shots of people not even charged for any crime, let alone convicted.
The Court ruling six years ago warned of the "risk of stigmatisation of those entitled to the presumption of innocence", adding that the database would be particularly harmful in the cases of children.
Despite this, the government has "urged" police forces to carry on retaining the facial images, promising new laws would follow. Police say officers use the technology to identify suspects, offenders and witnesses and to help with searching for unidentified suspects, such as those spotted on CCTV.
At the time time, a "biometrics strategy" has been delayed for five years, which likely means that the number of retained images is set to skyrocket.
The police can store these facial images without any proper consideration
Given the government's failure to act on the controversial database, a parliamentary committee is preparing to launch a probe into the Home Office.
Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, who chairs the Commons Science and Technology Committee, told The Independent that his committee is ready to step in and investigate the "intolerable" situation.
He continued: "The police can store these facial images without any proper consideration of them, which raises fundamental and significant civil liberty issues about what they are retaining about us.
"It includes people who have not been charged with any crime or people who have been exonerated."
Lamb also voiced concerns about the disproportionate targeting of ethnic minorities, telling the newspaper: "There are also concerns about bias - and also about the accuracy of identification.
"This is not to say the technology doesn't have its place or potential value, but it needs to be operated within a clear legal and regulatory framework."
Lamb said he will push for Baroness Williams, the Home Office minister responsible for biometrics, to be brought before his Committee when it discusses the controversy on Tuesday. If she fails to provide answers, the Committee will open a full investigation.
The Home Office hasn't offered up comment on the report.
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