Report on the Review of the Use and Retention of Custody Images

Home Office written statement – made on 24th February 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Amber Rudd Amber Rudd The Secretary of State for the Home Department

I am pleased to announce that today I am publishing the Report on the Review of the Use and Retention of Custody Images, copies of which are available in the House Library and online at .gov.uk. These are the images taken when people are arrested.

This review has found that the police make extensive use of custody images and that they are a standard feature of everyday policing. It sets out the Government’s view of the framework for the use and retention of custody images by the police.

The review acknowledges the important role that custody images and facial searching plays in the detection and prevention of crime. However, it recognises the need to strike a careful balance between protecting individual privacy and giving the police the tools they need to keep us safe.

Accordingly, following consultation with key partners, the principal recommendation is to allow ‘unconvicted persons’ to apply for deletion of their custody image, with a presumption that this will be deleted unless retention is necessary for a policing purpose, and there is an exceptional reason to retain it. In practice, this will mean that people could apply to chief officers for their image to be deleted where they have not been convicted of the offence in relation to which their image was taken.

Further, the review recommends that there should be an even stronger presumption of deletion upon application for unconvicted persons whose image was taken when they were under 18 years old and that such images should be retained only where there are exceptional reasons to do so.

Where the image of an unconvicted person is not deleted, or where no application is received, the review recommends that it should be reviewed in accordance with the periods set out in the College of Policing’s Authorised Professional Practice Guidance (‘the APP’), with a presumption of deletion at the next review unless there is an exceptional reason to retain the image (a strong presumption of deletion and highly exceptional reasons in the case of a person whose image was taken when they were under 18).

The review also recommends that persons who are convicted of the offence in relation to which their image was taken should have a limited right to apply for deletion of their image. Forces would only be required to consider such applications for deletion six or ten years after conviction or release from custody where the person was sentenced to a term of imprisonment or detention for the offence in question or another offence, depending on the APP group that the offence falls into. There would be no presumption of deletion at the point of review, other than where the image was taken when the individual was under 18. In all cases the police will be able to retain the image if this is necessary for a policing purpose and proportionate to the level and type of risk the individual poses.

Where the image of a person convicted of a recordable offence is not deleted, or where no application is received, the review recommends that its retention should be reviewed in accordance with the periods set out in the College of Policing’s Authorised Professional Practice Guidance (‘the APP’), with no presumption in favour unless it relates to an image taken when they were under 18.

A person convicted for a ‘non-recordable’ offence (which are broadly less serious than recordable offences), would be able to apply for deletion of their image six years after conviction. If the image was taken when the person was an adult, there would be a presumption in favour of deletion; if the image was taken when the person was under 18, there would be a strong presumption in favour of deletion.

Where the image of a person convicted of a non-recordable offence is not deleted, or where no application is received, the review recommends that its retention should be reviewed six years from conviction (or release from custody) and every five years thereafter, with a presumption in favour of deletion and a strong presumption if it relates to an image taken when they were under 18.

The core recommendations will be implemented through changes to the APP.

This statement has also been made in the House of Lords: HLWS502