Role proposed to oversee police use of biometric forensics

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The Scottish Government is proposing to create a Biometrics Commissioner so that there is greater oversight of how the police take, store, use and dispose of biometric data.  

The Scottish Biometrics Commissioner Bill, which will be voted on by SMPs before passing into law, aims to help improve how biometric data is handled by police, ensuring it is done in a lawful, ethical and effective way during investigations.

The Commissioner will also prepare a code of practice to provide guidance and information on good practice in relation to the acquisition, retention, use and destruction of biometric data by Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority.  

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said: "The Scottish Government wants to ensure that the approach to biometric data in policing and criminal justice system is lawful, effective and ethical.   “There is not yet a single commonly recognised set of working standards around biometrics. 

The new Commissioner and the code of practice will complement the work of others, including the Information Commissioner, and help maintain public confidence in how new technologies and data are being used to help keep crime down and communities safe.”  

The Independent Advisory Group on Biometric Data made recommendations which form the basis of the Bill now introduced to Parliament.

The Commissioner will be appointed by and accountable to Parliament. They will be able to make recommendations if they believe that an organisation is not having regard to the code of practice. If that happened the relevant body could be called to account to Parliament.   In addition to the Bill, proposals to create a new, non-statutory Ethics Advisory Group are currently being developed with stakeholders.



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