I would put it to the hon. Gentleman that security comes first and that is the primary duty of any Government—to keep the public safe. Once we have secured people’s safety, then liberty comes from that security. That is why I believe the amendment before the House tonight has got things the wrong way round. I conceded they are incredibly important considerations, but they are not more important than national security and any measures that enhance the security of the public here in the end contribute to enhancing their liberty. That is why security must come first.
As well as finding those matches, the pilot also found that information was provided in a much more timely manner than it had been under the old arrangements, as the Home Secretary said. It found that information was being provided in a matter of seconds, minutes or hours, drastically improving the speed and quality of investigations. At present, requests by the British police for DNA checks from other European forces involve a request to the National Crime Agency, which is then passed to Interpol before being passed on to the relevant national police force. On average, it takes 143 days for the results to come back. The benefits to UK law enforcement of opting into the Prüm decisions on data access are therefore abundantly clear, in terms of speed of investigation and of resources. DNA checks will be available within 15 seconds, automated number plate checks within 10 seconds and fingerprint matches within 24 hours.