A UK union has told members at Westminster City Council to
refuse to use biometric devices for clocking on and off, due to
concerns over consultation and privacy.
The council said the machines would cover up to 200 staff within
its community protection department. But union Unison said some machines had
already been installed at local offices for street scene and
community warden staff, although the machines were not yet
"Our objections are two-fold," Unison assistant branch
secretary Stephen Higgins told GC News. "Westminster hasn't
consulted with the union before installing, although it intends to
consult. Secondly, members are not confident that Westminster can
hold their data securely and will not share their data with others,
such as the Metropolitan Police."
The council said the system converted a low-resolution picture of
a fingerprint into a number, and did not store an image of the
print, so it could not be used for other purposes.
"We hope to introduce this technology as soon as possible, but
this will only happen after a full consultation with staff," said
Dean Ingledew, Westminster City Council's director of community
"The system mainly applies to members of staff who are
street-based and often work alone and late at night, and many say
they actually feel safer with this system because, if anyone fails
to sign in or out, it is flagged up immediately and calls are made
to find out where they are," he added.
However, Unison's Higgins said that street-scene staff did not
work alone, and that another justification given by the council, that the machines would control access to offices, was unfounded as
the machines are being installed within offices, rather than at