Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner's annual report laid in Parliament

The Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s Annual Report for 2022 to 2023 has been laid in Parliament today

The Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner’s annual report for 2022 to 2023 has been laid in Parliament today.

The report sets out the findings and observations of the Commissioner in relation to his responsibilities for overseeing police use of DNA and fingerprints in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and for encouraging the proper use of public space surveillance cameras.

The report covers the period March 2022 to March 2023 and was produced by Professor Fraser Sampson who was the Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner during that period, and who left office on 31 October 2023.

The 55-page report discusses a number of matters, including:

  • National Security Determinations (NSDs): a drop in the number of occasions when police forces applied for NSDs to allow them to keep the biometrics of unconvicted people who are believed to present a risk to national security (see pages 21 to 26)

  • Increase in use of Section 63g powers: an increase in the number of times that police forces sought to use their powers to ask the Commissioner for permission to keep DNA and /or fingerprints of people who are arrested, but not convicted, of qualifying offences. However, the report also suggests that the power is underused by many police forces with ten having never used the power since it became available in 2013 (see pages 28 to 35)

  • DNA handling errors: the number of DNA samples rendered unusable because of handling errors has increased from 953 last year to 1,214 during this reporting period. Failure to properly seal sample bags was again a common error (see pages 42 to 43)

  • Research on use of surveillance cameras and drones: the report discusses the findings of three OBSCC research exercises completed in the reporting period (see pages 49 to 52). These covered:

    • police use of surveillance cameras
    • local authority use of surveillance cameras
    • police use of unmanned aerial vehicles/ drones

Professor Fraser Sampson submitted his annual report to the Home Secretary shortly before he left office on 31 October 2023.

Mr Tony Eastaugh CBE was appointed as BSCC in December 2023.

Mr Eastaugh will therefore not be able to address matters of opinion expressed by his predecessor. The Commissioner and his Office will be happy to deal with media enquiries related to the factual content of the report.

Biometrics and Surveillance Camera Commissioner