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Biometrics strategy and forensic services examined

12 February 2019

The Science and Technology Committee will hold a one-off evidence session with the Biometrics Commissioner, Professor Paul Wiles, the Forensic Science Regulator, Dr Gillian Tully, and the Minister for Countering Extremism, Baroness Williams of Trafford, to follow up on the Committee's 2018 Report "Biometrics strategy and forensic services".

The session will take place on Tuesday 19 March. It will examine what progress has been made towards addressing the recommendations made in the Committee's Report and will also consider the Government's 'Biometrics Strategy' and the Forensic Science Regulator Bill.

There will not be formal 'terms of reference' for this short inquiry – interested stakeholders are welcome to send written submissions on the points outlined above. These should reach the Committee by Monday 11 March. Submissions received after this point will be accepted but are less likely to inform the Committee's questioning.

Chair's comments

Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, Chair of the Science and Technology Committee, said:

“Successive Science and Technology Committees have repeatedly raised concerns about the governance of biometrics and forensics by the Home Office. Both are at the heart of our courts system and its vital that we have confidence in them and the administration of justice.

“Almost a year ago, we published our Report on the Biometrics strategy and forensic science services. As the recent letter from the Forensic Science Regulator, Dr Gillian Tully, highlights, the Government is still no closer to putting the Regulator's position on a statutory footing—one of our key Report recommendations.

“The Government has finally published its biometrics strategy—as we repeatedly called on it to do—but the 27-page document in no way did justice to the fundamental issues involved, particularly around loss of privacy.

“We are therefore holding a one-off evidence session on the 19 March to follow up on these matters, and others, with the Biometrics Commissioner, the Forensic Science Regulator, and the Government”.

Further information

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