NPIA denies UK role in global crime database

Plans are in place surrounding an international criminal database, which could possibly include the UK, it has been reported.

The database, called Server in the Sky, is being developed by the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It would allow investigators to search for information including biometrics on millions of criminals without resorting to faxing fingerprints or other details overseas, reports said.

The US is hoping to sign up its allies to offer better coverage, and a report in the Guardian said senior British police officials were in talks with the American agency.

But a spokesperson with the National Policing Improvement Agency has denied that claim, saying the body has no plans to link the UK's fingerprint computer IDENT1 to the FBI system.

"The NPIA is aware of the FBI's 'Server in the Sky' as a concept, through wider discussions on information management and sharing held with colleagues from the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand as part of the International Information Consortium," the spokesperson said, adding the consortium is made up of the FBI and NPIA, as well as policing bodies in Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

"When discussed in this forum, there were no specific discussions on timescales or on the practical implications of delivering and managing such a system," the spokesperson said.

A Home Office spokesman said: "We are aware of the proposed project. As you would expect we consider a wide range of initiatives as we constantly look to enhance our investigative capabilities... Relevant safeguards are always considered as part of this process."

Describing the database, an FBI spokesperson told the Guardian: "Server in the Sky is an FBI initiative designed to foster the advanced search and exchange of biometric information on a global scale. While it is currently in the concept and design stages, once complete it will provide a technical forum for member nations to submit biometric search requests to other nations. It will maintain a core holding of the world's 'worst of the worst' individuals. Any identifications of these people will be sent as a priority message to the requesting nation."

According to the report in the Guardian, the data would still be held by each involved country.