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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 May 2006, 15:40 GMT 16:40 UK
'Better CCTV needed' for ID match
Mohammed Sidique Khan, Shahzad Tanweer and Germaine Lindsay entering Luton railway station on 7 July 2005
CCTV filmed three suicide bombers on their way to London on 7 July
Sharper CCTV images are needed so shots of suspected criminals can be matched to the proposed identity card database, a Home Office minister has said.

Baroness Scotland told the Lords poor quality CCTV currently runs the risk of innocent people being wrongly arrested.

"Digital pictures... will enable us, particularly when ID cards come in, to identify those who are responsible for very serious crime," she added.

The Home Office stress safeguards will cover police use of the ID database.

But Baroness Scotland said it was important to ensure high-quality, well-maintained digital recording equipment was available to police forces.

She said blurred images could lead to incorrect arrests and stressed it was important "that innocent people are not improperly drawn into a situation for which they are not responsible".

'Bizarre camera angles'

However, the pressure group NO2ID - which opposes ID cards - doubted whether the system would work because methods of facial recognition were "of a very low quality".

A CCTV still of the 53m raid at a Securitas depot in Kent
Baroness Scotland says cameras must be new and well-maintained
"You can't just whip out a CCTV snap with all its attendant problems of bizarre camera angles from the corner of the bank, or over-the-shoulder shots", said its spokesman Michael Parker.

"To suggest that you'll be able to run a check and pluck out the right man from a database of 60 million seems to me like the height of foolishness."

Mr Parker added that the idea was a "kind of Buck Rogers-land 'mix-and-match'" and would not work unless headshots were in the frame and in the same projection as images on the National Identity Register.

A Home Office spokesman maintained there would be "no direct link between the National Identity Register and CCTV camera systems".

However, subject to the Identity Cards Act 2006, he said that if a CCTV image of a suspect was available, "it may be possible, as part of a wider investigation, for police to conduct a check of the image against facial images held on the National Identity Register."

However police will have to have exhausted other identification options before being given access to the identity cards database.

The ID cards scheme was passed by Parliament earlier this year after long running resistance from the House of Lords.

Everyone over the age of 16 who applies for a passport will have their details - including fingerprints, eye or facial scans - added to a National Identity Register from 2008.

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