National government

How can civil society be involved in shaping law enforcement data & biometrics programmes?

Home Office Open Space Coordinator
Home Office

The purpose of this project is to establish a productive space where the Home Office and civil society can have safe and constructive conversations about two Home Office programmes: the National Law Enforcement Data Programme (NLEDP) 1 ; and the Home Office Biometrics (HOB) Programme 2

What are the aims?

The Open Space was initiated by the Home Office in 2018. If successful, the proposed Open Space process will contribute to:

  • Effective civil society input into the safeguards to be used when combining the Police National Database and Police National Computer datasets and the future use of data, including biometric data, by the Home Office and law enforcement communities;
  • The development of a more robust assessment of the implications on public privacy through the use and storage of this data;
  • Input to shape the code of practice for this new system from participating civil society organisations (CSOs) on the use and storage of the public’s data;
  • The development of an ongoing process of collaboration between the Home Office, CSOs and organisations from other sectors.

What are we doing?

This work is being delivered through ongoing workshops. Each workshop provides CSOs with the opportunity to discuss and deliberate over the various stages and impacts of the National Law Enforcement Data Programme and Home Office Biometrics work.

The purpose of the Open Space is not to make policy, but to be part of a wider, more open consultation that the Home Office is doing on NLEDP.  Formal consultation and usual approval processes still apply.

The first workshop was held in July 2018 as an introduction and road mapping session for the rest of the process. At this workshop, participants agreed on the scope of the process and the principles of working together, which are outlined below. The Home Office Biometrics Programme (HOB) was brought into the scope of the process on agreement from all participants in October 2018.

Participants agreed that the Open Space would focus on the following areas of the programmes:

  • Governance, inspection and oversight;
  • Code of Practice;
  • Staff capacity, capability and training;
  • Data retention
  • Custody image policy;
  • Data sharing;
  • Data quality; and
  • The Data Protection Impact Assessments.

The Open Space has the power to bring in new areas of both programmes as agreed by participants in the space. Should participants agree, the scope of the programme beyond LEDS and HOB can be expanded.

If successful, the proposed process will contribute to the development of an ongoing process of collaboration between the Home Office, CSOs and organisations from other sectors.

Baroness Williams, Countering Extremism Minister Responsible for Home Office Data Strategy and Biometrics & Identity attended the workshop in December 2018 to explain the importance of the Open Space to the shaping of Home Office policy around this area. Future conversations are planned with the Minister as the process develops too. 

Our Role in the Process

Involve’s role is to hold the space open to allow the Home Office and civil society participants to have productive discussions. In order to do this, we don’t take sides and aim to structure the workshops and discussions in such a way that everyone can participate fully. We are there to ensure participants have a chance to agree or disagree with decisions made and to hold the Home Office accountable for acting on these discussions and decisions.

We are mindful throughout that civil society resource to engage in the process is limited. Another part of our role is to attempt to design a flexible process that means that CSOs can engage in those areas of the two programmes where they have most interest and are able to contribute effectively.

Involve reserves the right to withdraw from this role if it judges that either side is not acting in good faith.

Agreed Principles of Working Together

We established agreed principles of working together at the start of this process. All participants agree to:

  • Open collaboration: engaging constructively in the process within the shared purpose of the process. In cases of significant disagreement, Involve will play a mediation role;
  • Engage early: providing information, data and papers in good time, and identifying significant challenges and blocks as early as possible;
  • Agree to disagree: not expect consensus on every issue, but to seek to identify, reach agreement on and seek solution to areas of disagreement;
  • Maintain confidentiality: talking about the process and broad issues discussed as required without identifying individual positions or publishing confidential or embargoed material. In addition, participants agree to not identify the involvement of CSOs to others outside the process without the express permission of the organisation/s concerned;
  • Focus on the process: engaging on issues of relevance to the scope of the process. This will not prevent organisations from engaging on wider issues and policies outside the space; and
  • Promote accessibility: identifying and proposing the involvement of participants with a legitimate interest and expertise to engage.

Open Space Annual Report & Impact of the Space

This is the first LEDS/HOB Open Space Annual Report to be produced and covers the first 2 years of the process. The report will be produced annually from this point forward.

Download a PDF of the report below. 


The purpose of the LEDS/HOB Open Space Annual Report is to provide transparency about the discussions within the Open Space; identify progress and sticking points from the point of view of CSOs and to hold the Home Office accountable for its commitments from the process to date.

The report will also ensure that potentially interested stakeholders, both inside and outside of the Open Space, find out more about the process. We hope this in turn may help to bring more organisations into the process strengthening it in terms of the knowledge and skills it is able to draw on.

Report Contributors

Sections 1 - 4 of this report have been drafted and reviewed by us as facilitators of the Open Space. These are sections covering the practical aspects of the Open Space.

Civil society participants have drafted sections 5 and 6 explaining their perspectives on the impact of the process and areas CSOs feel the space needs to focus on in future. Involve has reviewed these sections to ensure a balance in terms of input from the different CSOs contributing to the report.

The Home Office has reviewed the whole report for any factual errors otherwise they have not been involved in drafting the main content of this report.

What's next?

Workshops are continuing to be held online every three months. The NLEDP team are exploring how this process can be further embedded into the ongoing governance structures of the LEDS Programme.

The wider Home Office Data & Identity Directorate are also exploring where else this type of stakeholder engagement could be effectively built into their work.

For more information, please contact Simon Burall on [email protected] and keep an eye out for updates on this page after each workshop.

  • 1The National Law Enforcement Data Programme (NLEDP): NLEDP is designed to bring together data from the Police National Computer (PNC) and intelligence data from the Police National Database (PND), to provide a consolidated view of these national records. The objective is that this will result in joined up information for Law Enforcement and other agencies, when required and where this is proportionate. The Home Office aim is for this to improve crime prevention to better protect the public. The system will be known as LEDS (Law Enforcement Data Service). You will find the Privacy Impact Assessment for the programme here.
  • 2The Home Office Biometrics (HOB) Programme: HOB has the responsibility to provide biometrics related services to a wide range of Home Office and government users. This currently includes Departments and agencies involved in immigration and law enforcement. HOB’s work supports identification services, crime scene investigation, visa applications, passport applications, border control and counterterrorism (for Immigration, Borders, Passports and Law Enforcement). The systems in the scope of the HOB Programme that provide such biometric services are: the IDENT1 (Law Enforcement and Security Biometrics System); Immigration and Asylum Biometrics System (IABS) and the National DNA Database (NDNAD). You will find the Privacy Impact Assessment for the programme here (this is currently under review).