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Schools to be challenged over biometrics

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Parents are preparing a legal challenge to schools that have fingerprinted their children without their consent.

Janine Fletcher, a solicitor and concerned parent who instigated the legal response, said she became concerned when she learned that 70 schools in her home county of Cumbria had taken childrens' fingerprints without seeking parental consent.

"It's a breach of human rights," she said. "Lots of parents are willing to take legal action. There's a clear case."

"We are trying to get a list of distressed parents together who are prepared to take group action," she said. "Every child has a right to privacy."

Richard Furlong, a barrister who has advised the campaign group Leave Them Kids Alone, which is co-ordinating the action, said: "Once the kids fingerprints are taken, the schools are obliged in law to disclose the fingerprint to the police if they are investigating a crime. All of a sudden, police have a huge database to query. But the police only usually have access to your fingerprints when you are arrested."

"All of a sudden they've got this great database and in twenty years time they'll have everyone's fingerprints through the back door," he said.

"People say, 'if you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear', I always say, well how much do you earn then?" he added.

Many schools put their fingerprint systems in over the school holidays and informed parents by letter on the first day of term, said Fletcher. Parents weren't being given enough time to disagree with the scheme, let alone think through the ramifications of their children being fingerprinted.

The group are preparing to take a test case against a school that has fingerprinted children without parental consent.®

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