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ID cards 'will sneak in fingerprint database'
By Marie Woolf, Chief Political Correspondent
04 September 2002
The Government wants to give police the power to access fingerprint records of any British citizen as part of the new national "entitlement card" scheme.
Police and law enforcement agencies would be allowed to check millions of fingerprints to help to track down suspects of serious crimes or terrorist offences. They could centre searches on cities and towns in which crime had been committed.
Fingerprint information is intended to be included in the proposed new identity cards.
But civil liberties groups say the proposal, which will be considered as part of the Government's consultation on whether to introduce the cards on a national basis, is a gross infringement of an individual's privacy and would turn innocent people into potential suspects. Yesterday, they denounced the Government for slipping out the announcement during the summer recess of Parliament.
Roger Bingham, of the civil rights group Liberty, said: "We are talking about a national fingerprint or biometric database by the back door. The Government admitted the overwhelming majority of crimes are committed by people the police know about, but they still want to treat the other 58 million of us as suspects.".