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Scotland lawmakers weigh biometric code of practice for policing

Categories Biometrics News  |  Law Enforcement
Scotland lawmakers weigh biometric code of practice for policing

The Scottish Parliament is considering a draft code of practice for biometric data use by police, The Scotsman reports, potentially making Scotland a pioneer in such an initiative.

Brian Plastow, Scotland’s first biometrics commissioner and former police chief, composed and sent the draft. It is said to contain 12 ethical principles such as privacy and human rights protection and defines different types of biometric data to help keep the use of the technology in the Scottish criminal justice system compliant.

The code also contains a mechanism giving the public a way to complain if use does not comply.

Scotland has a ban on live facial recognition, but Police Scotland use two retrospective (or “forensic”) facial recognition systems, according to The Scotsman. The country’s police force uses retrospective facial recognition through the UK-wide Police National and Child Abuse Image databases.

Plastow said Scotland would be the first country in the world to have a statutory code of practice on the acquisition, retention, use and destruction of biometric data for criminal justice and policing purposes, and called it a “significant human rights achievement” for the country.

The code won unanimous support from a consultation panel made up of 33 members of the public, government officials and various groups, The Scotsman reports. Plastow also says he has arranged for a website to explain biometrics and related issues to the Scottish public.

He says he would not oppose Police Scotland using facial recognition with body cameras. But Plastow believes there are questions about the legality and effectiveness of that pairing.

The code is currently before the criminal justice committee, which can advance a final draft to cabinet to determine a statutory instrument for its implementation.

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