Thousands of foreign criminals have had their DNA profiles and fingerprints wiped from UK databases due to a legal loophole, a watchdog has revealed.
Police officers are unable to hold on to DNA samples solely on the grounds that a suspect has been convicted of a serious offence overseas, the biometrics commissioner Alastair MacGregor said.
Mr MacGregor blasted the gap in the law as an "unsatisfactory state of affairs which might well be putting the UK public at unnecessary risk".
If officers want to retain DNA profiles from overseas offenders, they have no choice but to repeatedly return to suspects to take further samples and fingerprints, which the commissioner said places huge burdens on forces.
In addition, Mr MacGregor said re-arresting and re-sampling a suspect following a conviction overseas could be a greater violation of their privacy than holding on to DNA and fingerprints already taken from them.