UK Passport Images Database Could Be Used To Catch Shoplifters – Slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Britain’s passport database could be used to catch shoplifters, burglars and other criminals under urgent plans to curb crime, the policing minister has said. Chris Philp said he planned to integrate data from the police national database (PND), the Passport Office and other national databases to help police find a match with the “click of one button.” But civil liberty campaigners have warned the plans would be an “Orwellian nightmare” that amount to a “gross violation of British privacy principles”.

Foreign nationals who are not on the passport database could also be found via the immigration and asylum biometrics system, which will be part of an amalgamated system to help catch thieves. The measures have been deemed controversial by campaigners as the technology could get a match even if images are blurred or partially obscured. Speaking at a fringe event of the Conservative party conference hosted by the Policy Exchange thinktank, Philp said: “I’m going to be asking police forces to search all of those databases — the police national database, which has custody images, but also other databases like the passport database — not just for shoplifting but for crime generally to get those matches, because the technology is now so good that you can get a blurred image and get a match for it.

“Operationally, I’m asking them to do it now. In the medium term, by which I mean the next two years, we’re going to try and create a new data platform so you can press one button [and it] lets you search it all in one go. Until the new platform is created, he said police forces should search each database separately. […] Philp said he has already ordered police forces that have access to the passport database to start searching it alongside the police national database, which stores custody images. Officers will be able to compare those facial images against CCTV, dashcam and doorbell technology to help find a match for criminals as prosecution rates are at record lows. He later added: “I would also just remind everyone that the wider public, including shop staff and security guards, do have the power of citizen’s arrest and where it’s safe to do so I would encourage that to be used. Because if you do just let people walk in and take stuff and walk out without proper challenge, including potentially a physical challenge, then it will just escalate.”


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