Met Police chief calls for European DNA database

05 Mar 2008 View Comments
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Sir Ian Blair wants an EU-wide DNA database

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair has called for the UK’s controversial DNA database to be extended across Europe to help bridge the intelligence gap caused by the removal of many of the EU's internal borders.

He made the proposal at the first pan-European Serious Organised Crime Conference in Liverpool yesterday, claiming also that a Europe-wide automated fingerprint recognition and search system would have "obvious" benefits.

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Bair told delegates that the welcome introduction of the Eurodac system for identifying asylum seekers was "a move in the right direction" but only applied to illegal immigration and asylum applicants.

"To extend such a system to include fingerprints taken from criminals EU-wide would be a huge step forward and would go some way to addressing the intelligence loss that the removal of borders has created," he said.

Tory shadow home secretary David Davis said everybody would welcome the reasonable use across borders of DNA and other biometric data to identify criminals.
But he warned that the government needs to improve its data security first.

“It would be best, before we got to that stage, if we improved our data security so that we didn't leave four thousand DNA records on a shelf for a year, and didn't take the risk of losing the entire population's records - in the way we did with the HMRC disks debacle," said Davis.

"National and international security comes down to the gritty business of doing the day-to-day job well and using technology properly and safely, and is not just about blue skies ideas."

Meanwhile the Lords European Union Committee called on the government to speed up its proposed e-Borders system, which is not due for full implementation until 2014.

In a report on EU border controls, the committee found it "astonishing" that although there was an elaborate system of temporary or limited entry into the UK, "there is no way in which the Borders and Immigration Agency can know whether these time limits and conditions are being complied with because there is no routine recording of entries into or departures from the UK."

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