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Police biometric data use to be improved 22/03/2018 An Independent Advisory Group on Biometric Data has recommended a series of changes to how such data is used by Police Scotland.

Police biometric data use to be improved

An Independent Advisory Group on Biometric Data has recommended a series of changes to how such data is used by Police Scotland.

The group, established by Justice Secretary Michael Matheson last year and chaired by Society of Solicitor Advocates’ President John Scott QC, examined the acquisition, retention, use and disposal of data such as DNA, fingerprints, facial and other photographic images, and what improvements could be made to the regime governing this.

Their recommendations include:

  • Creating a new code of practice on the acquisition, retention, use and disposal of biometric data
  • Reviewing the legal rules on retention of data in the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 to consider questions of proportionality and necessity
  • Encouraging a ‘national debate’ to improve public understanding of and confidence in the use of biometric data
  • Establishing an independent Scottish Biometrics Commissioner to monitor compliance with the code.

“The Scottish Government accepts the Group’s report and the thrust of its recommendations. While the creation of a new Biometrics Commissioner to monitor compliance with a new code will require careful consideration and discussions with the parliamentary authorities, it is one that we accept in principle,” said Mr Matheson. “The public should continue to have confidence in how their information is held and I hope that the publication of this report will kick-start a wider debate on biometric data and how it is best used to help keep our communities safe.”

Chair of the Independent Advisory Group and human rights lawyer John Scott added, “Just under ten years ago, the European Court of Human Rights commented with approval on the regime in Scotland for regulating the retention of DNA samples and profiles. Around the same time, the Scottish Government commissioned an independent review into the regulation of matters relating to DNA and fingerprints which led to necessary changes in the law.”

“Since then, there have been continuing developments in these and other areas of biometric technologies,” he said. “This review offers the opportunity to take account of these and future developments and develop a framework for the regulation of all policing aspects of biometric data, reflecting the significance of such data in policing as well as all ethical and human rights considerations.”

The report can be found here and the Scottish Government response is available here.

 

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