The DNA and fingerprint profiles of over 800 terror suspects have been accidentally deleted by police and intelligence agencies.
Around one in 10 of the 8,000 suspected extremists in the UK had their forensic information removed from government databases due to “handling delays” and “procedural errors”, the UK’s Biometrics Commissioner has said.
Alastair MacGregor QC found in his annual report that hundreds of profiles were destroyed thanks to a failure to complete appropriate paperwork.
Under UK law, biometric material must be destroyed within six months if no charges are brought, however police and security services can apply to keep it for longer if they believe the suspect is dangerous enough.
Mr MacGregor said there were “repeated delays” in police transferring DNA data, while security services had “substantial delays” in assessing suspects.
The proportion of records destroyed was more than double that of the previous year, he adds.
Keith Vaz, the Labour MP who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, told the Telegraph the report does “little for public confidence”.
“The Home Office must get a grip of how data is being managed to prevent issues like this from damaging our national security,” he added.
Assistant Chief Constable Alan Barr confirmed that 810 profiles had been deleted, saying: “We have worked with the Biometrics Commissioner to develop a comprehensive plan to rectify the immediate issues and to ensure this will not happen again.
“The identity of these individuals is known and the risks they potentially pose are being managed in conjunction with partner agencies to minimise any long-term risk to the public.”
The Home Office said it was “grateful” for the report and claimed that “steps are being taken to address these issues, and the police have provided further assurances that they will be kept under close review”.