John Whittingdale debates involving the Home Office during the 2019 Parliament

Mon 27th January 2020
3 interactions (43 words)
Wed 22nd January 2020
3 interactions (53 words)

Automated Facial Recognition Surveillance

John Whittingdale Excerpts
Monday 27th January 2020

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Home Office
Kit Malthouse Portrait Kit Malthouse
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27 Jan 2020, 4:40 p.m.

I do. It is worth repeating what I said at the beginning about how the system works. If an individual passes in front of a camera and there is no match, the information that that individual is there is instantly deleted; if there is a match, the information will be retained for 31 days and then deleted; and even if there is a match, it is for the police officer on the scene at the time to decide, on viewing the evidence, whether to stop the individual. We will see how this goes over the next few months and years, but we hope and believe it will be of enormous benefit in fighting crime.

John Whittingdale Portrait Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con)
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27 Jan 2020, 4:40 p.m.

Does my hon. Friend not accept the view of the surveillance camera commissioner, who has said that the guidelines are insufficient at present and there is no transparency? Do the Government plan to update the guidelines to take account of developments in technology?

Kit Malthouse Portrait Kit Malthouse
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27 Jan 2020, 4:41 p.m.

I am grateful to my right hon. Friend for his question, which points to the heart of the matter. As he knows, there is a facial recognition and biometrics board, which is soon to have a new chair. As part of that renewal of leadership, we will review the board’s terms of reference and its mission, especially in the light of technological developments. What emanates from that, and whether it is a change in the terms of the code, we will have to wait and see, but as I said at the start, I am very aware of the duty we have in this House to strike the right balance between security and liberty.

Prevent Programme

John Whittingdale Excerpts
Wednesday 22nd January 2020

(1 year, 9 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Home Office
Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
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To give some context, Counter Terrorism Policing creates a range of guidance documents for use across the whole of policing, not just by counter-terrorism officers or Prevent practitioners. It produces these documents to help frontline officers and other colleagues make informed decisions, including about protecting crowded places at times of protest—something that Figen Murray has done amazing work on.

The signs and symbols document that became the subject of the Guardian article was produced to help the police and close partners identify and understand signs and symbols that they may come across in their day-to-day working lives, so that they know the difference between the symbols for the many groups they may come across. But these things have to be done correctly and in the right context. The police themselves have recognised that this was an error of judgment, and they have withdrawn the document and are reviewing it.

John Whittingdale Portrait Mr John Whittingdale (Maldon) (Con)
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22 Jan 2020, 12:40 p.m.

Does my right hon. Friend appreciate the enormous distress and offence that this has caused across Ukraine? Does he share my view that this symbol needs to be removed from the police guidance? Will he also take this opportunity to reiterate that this country remains a very strong friend and supporter of Ukraine?

Brandon Lewis Portrait Brandon Lewis
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22 Jan 2020, 12:40 p.m.

My right hon. Friend makes a very good point. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Europe and the Americas has spoken to his opposite number in Ukraine today. I am likely to see one of my opposite numbers in Zagreb over the next couple of days, and I will express the huge regret felt by the Government about the fact that this happened. We have a very valuable and positive relationship with our friends and partners in Ukraine. We look to see that continue and strengthen as we look outward as a global country while we leave the European Union.