Too expensive’ to delete millions of police mugshots of innocent people, minister claims

Millions of police mugshots of innocent people cannot be deleted because it would be too expensive, a government minister has claimed – despite a High Court ruling that the practice is unlawful.

The work would have to be “done manually” by local forces, making the costs “difficult to justify”, a committee of MPs investigating the controversy has been told.

The Home Office has also admitted it has no idea how many people have successfully asked for their mugshots to be deleted – amid suspicions that the figure is very low.

The revelations were quickly attacked by Norman Lamb, the chairman of the science and technology committee, who has warned the mass retention of facial images raises “fundamental civil liberty issues”.

They come just days after it was revealed the Home Office destroyed landing cards which could have helped Windrush arrivals prove their right to stay in the UK – allegedly to comply with data protection laws.

“Innocent people should rightly expect that images gathered of them in relation to a crime will be removed if they are not convicted,” Mr Lamb, a Liberal Democrat, said.

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