In a statement coordinated by Statewatch, thirteen civil society organisations have urged MPs to ensure thorough scrutiny and a meaningful democratic debate on potential UK participation in a pan-European police facial recognition system, which they claim is unnecessary, disproportionate, and undesirable. The EU plans to expand the Prüm network of police databases, in which the UK already participates, to enable the cross-border searching and exchange of facial images, police records, and potentially driving licenses. According to Statewatch, however, the necessity and proportionality of these changes have not been demonstrated. If the UK joins the expanded system, millions of custody images, police records and potentially passport photos could be made available for searches by police forces in the EU. The government has previously ignored Parliament’s wishes regarding UK participation in the system. Therefore, an open, thorough, democratic debate must be held to ensure this does not happen again.
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