Police Plans To Use The UK Passport Database to Combat Crimes

Police Plans To Use The UK Passport Database to Combat Crimes

The UK's passport database could be used to swiftly help catch criminals.

Policing Minister Chris Philp stated he wants to integrate data from the police national database (PND), the Passport Office and other national databases. Forces will then be able to find a match “at the click of a button” by comparing those facial images with CCTV, dashcam, and doorbell footage.

The passport database has images of 45 million people and under the plan video of suspected crime from CCTV, doorbell and dashcam technology would be compared against facial images from a range of government databases to find a match under the plans.

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.

Chris Philp aims to have the system up and running in two years to help curb crime such as shoplifting, burglary, and car and bike theft. 

The pledge to use the passport database follows retail industry executives complaining about the police for failing to respond to violent attacks on staff and thefts from retail stores. 

The Home Office’s statistics record that in more than 54% of all reported shoplifting crimes last year, no suspect was ever identified.

Business resentment is mounting over what is perceived to be police inaction on shoplifting. The Co-op stated last month that its food division lost £33 million this year due to costs including shoplifting as it reported the highest-ever levels of shop crime.

“A rise in shop looting and retail crime perpetuated by repeat, prolific offenders and organised criminal gangs is becoming genuinely one of the most significant issues facing UK communities.

“One of the things that makes me most angry is those that claim this is a victimless crime – it is fundamentally not, as my store colleagues who have been verbally abused, or have had knives or syringes pulled on them, can all vouch for. But the frustration is that it does come across as a seemingly consequence-less crime.”

Matt Hood, the managing director of Co-op Food

“We are seeing organised gangs threatening staff with weapons and emptying stores.” 

British Retail Consortium chief executive Helen Dickinson

However, it is important to note that these measures have sparked controversy.

Concerns have been raised about the potential for the technology to generate matches even when images are blurred or partially obscured, raising questions about privacy and accuracy in its application.

What are your thoughts on the police using passport images? Talk to us in the comment section below. Or if you need more advice on the above, contact us for further travel & immigration advice.

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