Watchdog to investigate Police Scotland's use of biometric data
03 July 2017 17:24 GMT

An independent watchdog in Scotland plans to scrutinise the police's use of biometric data. 

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS), which is a public body of the Scottish Government and reports to the Scottish Parliament, will be producing a report by the end of the year on the ethics and governance of keeping and disposing of biometric data.

Last year, an HMCIS report on police biometric data recommended tighter legislation, a statutory code of practice and the creation of a new post of Biometrics Commissioner.

Police Scotland retain custody photos for up to 12 years even if no one is charged, although mugshots are not uploaded to the Police National Database as in England and Wales.

In 2015, after an earlier review led by Mr Scott, ministers clamped down on the use of stop and search powers by Police Scotland, after it emerged they had been repeatedly used against children under 12 despite police promises they would not be.

Under then Chief Constable Sir Stephen House, Scotland’s frisk rate was twice as high as London, leading to concerns about a target-driven system and the abuse of human rights.

In March, Police Scotland revealed that it was considering a plan that would allow them to use mobile phones for fingerprint database checks at crime scenes.

The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) has said the technology could provide a significant boost particularly in murder inquiries where the first “golden hour” is vital in the collection of evidence. The initiative to use handheld devices in police forensic work is being looked at by the national force as part of its 10-year strategy, reports the Scotsman. Tom Nelson, head of forensics at the SPA, told the Scotland on Sunday that the technology could be a very useful tool.