I am appointing Mr Alastair MacGregor QC as the new Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material (“Biometrics Commissioner”). The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 (“the Act”) introduces a new, fairer, regime for the destruction, retention and use of biometric material, such as DNA and fingerprints. This important new role is created by the Act to provide independent oversight to the operation of the new regime and is vital to ensure that decisions by the authorities to keep biometric material are made in accordance with the law, and that there is public confidence in the exercise of such powers.
The functions of the Biometrics Commissioner are set out in sections 20 and 21 of the Act. As Commissioner, Mr MacGregor will be the sole decision maker in reviewing decisions to retain material for national security purposes and in determining applications made for the retention of material relating to individuals arrested but not charged. He will make an annual report about the carrying out of all these functions, which will be laid before Parliament.
Mr MacGregor takes up post from today and we look forward to working closely with him.
We are also making significant progress in preparation for the commencement of part 1, chapter 1 of the Act in October 2013. To date 504,000 DNA profiles have been deleted from the national DNA database and 439,000 DNA samples destroyed.