Home Office

Direct Communications Unit
2 Marsham Street, London SW1P 4DF
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E-mail: public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk Website: www.homeoffice.gov.uk


Mr David Moss
Business Consultancy Services Ltd

Reference: T19669/8 and 10178

18 September 2008


Dear Mr Moss,


Thank you for your email of 21 August 2008 in which you ask for information in relation to the trial of automated face recognition technologies at UK airports, which we are treating as an Freedom of Information request.

Biometric technologies have been subject of continued research and development since Tony Mansfield (of NPL) and Marek Rejman-Greene (of BT) wrote the feasibility study in 2003. The evaluation of technologies referenced in this study stretches back even further to a report published in early 2001.

In addition, you may be aware that since the publication of that study, there has been agreement on an international standard for photographic images used in the new generation of passports (ISO/IEC 19794-5:2005+A1:2007). The introduction of such e-passports envisaged the application of one-to-one biometric matching in border control.

The trials in UK airports aim to establish both suitability and accuracy for one-to-one matching of photographs in e-passports with the faces of travellers, which - as the report written by Tony Mansfield and Marek Rejman-Greene points out - is likely to be considerably more accurate than one-to-many searching of images in large databases.

In keeping with the spirit and effect of the Freedom of Information Act, all information is assumed to be releasable to the public unless exempt. The department therefore, will be simultaneously releasing to the public the information you requested together with any related information that will provide a key to its wider context.

If you are dissatisfied with this response you may request an independent internal review of our handling of your request by submitting your complaint to one of the addresses below and quote reference case register no. 10178

Information Policy Team
Information and Record Management Service
Home Office
4th Floor, Seacole Building
2 Marsham Street

Email: info.access@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

During the independent review the department's handling of your information request will be reassessed by staff who were not involved in providing you with this response. Should you remain dissatisfied after this internal review, you will have a right of complaint to the Information Commissioner as established by section 50 of the Freedom of Information Act.

Yours sincerely,

Rob Coleman OBE BEng
Deputy Director
Home Office Scientific Development Branch