Publication of the 4th Annual Report of the Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group

Home Office written statement – made on 20th July 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

I am pleased to announce the publication of the 4th annual report of the Biometrics and Forensic Ethics Group on 20 July 2021. The Group provides Ministers with independent advice on matters relating to ethical issues in forensic science and biometrics and considers issues in data ethics.

I would like to thank the Group for their advice concerning the use and retention of biometric identifiers and for their advice on the development and testing of biometric technologies.

The BFEG have published two reports this year; on the feasibility of using genetic genealogy techniques to assist with criminal investigations by UK law enforcement; and on the ethical issues arising from public-private collaborative use of live facial recognition technology. The group have also updated their ethical principles for the development and use of biometric and forensic technologies and the use of large datasets.

The group continue to provide valuable advice and guidance: on policy changes relating to the use of the National DNA Database; in support of the Home Office Biometrics programme; and for projects involving large data sets or machine learning applications. The group also provided advice on a leaflet for arrestees explaining their rights regarding deletion of custody images.

The Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group annual report can be viewed on the website of the Group at and a copy will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.