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Police biometric data use to come under commissioner oversight

16 July 2018

A proposed commissioner to provide independent oversight of biometric data used by the police and others is the subject of a new Scottish Government consultation.

While the rapidly evolving biometrics field offers great potential in the identification and prevention of crime, the use of biometric data and technologies raises a range of ethical and human rights considerations and the consultation explores the potential to deliver independent and ethical oversight of the collection and use of such data in a policing and community safety context.

The term "biometric data" encompasses both "first generation" biometrics such as fingerprints, DNA and custody photographs, and the emerging technologies of facial recognition software, remote iris recognition and other behavioural biometrics such as voice pattern analysis. 

The move follows the recommendations of an independent advisory group chaired by solicitor advocate John Scott QC, to consider the taking, use and retention of biometric data in policing. The IAG made nine recommendations in total. Along with a new commissioner, the Group called for a statutory code of practice covering biometric data and technologies, which also features in the consultation.

Questions in the consultation include whether a statutory code of practice is required, who it should apply to, what it should contain, the remit and functions of the commissioner, and how the proposals should apply to data from children and young people. Results will further inform legislation planned for the current parliamentary session.

Click here to access the consultation. The deadline for responses is 1 October 2018.


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