Independent Advisory Group: Police Scotland’s use of emerging technologies

The main purpose of the Independent Advisory Group (IAG) is to ensure Police Scotland’s use of emerging technologies - in relation to operational policing - is compatible with human rights and other applicable legislation and best practice. The group will look to produce findings, recommendations and, an ethical framework document to assist Police Scotland with its consideration of deployment of any future new or emerging technology.

New technologies, ideas and methods are shaping the police force of tomorrow. We have seen the change in crime landscape over the years and, more recently, the challenges faced in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. When exploring the adoption of new emerging technologies, it is also essential to understand the legal and ethical considerations arising in the adoption of these technologies.

June 2019 saw the Cabinet Secretary for Justice appear before the Scottish Parliament’s Sub-Committee on Policing relating to a report released looking at the use of digital triage devices by Police Scotland. The forming of an Independent Advisory Group (IAG) was announced as a response to this appearance to explore the legal and ethical considerations arising from emerging technological developments.

techUK was delighted to have been approached by the Scottish Government in November 2020 to sit on the IAG reporting into the Cabinet Secretary for Justice on Police Scotland’s use of emerging technologies. This group will see leads from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), Policing, technology, Justice, academia and more coming together to drive forward this agenda and discuss some of the key challenges in the adoption of these technologies by Police Scotland.

Julian David, techUK CEO, said:

“The formation of an independent advisory group focused on the implications of the use of emerging technologies in policing and justice is most welcome. It is vital that emerging tech is not only used legally and ethically, but used for the benefit of people, society, the economy, and the planet.

“When we spoke to stakeholders across Scotland about how the tech sector can help Scotland recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and build back better, the key theme was around the need for greater levels of collaboration and coordination, with the goal of developing a tech ecosystem. It is my hope that this IAG can foster that collaboration between all parties involved.”

Remit and Purpose of the Group

The IAG will explore whether the current legal or ethical frameworks need to be updated to ensure Police Scotland’s use of emerging technologies, with regards to operational policing, is compatible with human rights legislation, other applicable legislation, and best practice. The group will provide recommendations to respond to any identified issues in the adoption of new emerging and transformative technologies.

The group will come together to look at the potential impact of emerging technologies or analytical techniques – whether currently available, in development or not presently deployed – could have on Police Scotland’s prevention and detection of crime.  It is also important to explore if the current legal and ethical frameworks being utilised by Police Scotland to exercise their powers are sound and can allow for the proportionate deployment of emerging technologies. The group will consider this within the context of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012

The group’s Chair Dr Liz Aston (Edinburgh Napier University) said:

“We are confident that by drawing on diverse expertise from academia, civil society, statutory bodies, policing and the technology sector, the IAG will drive forward positive change. This will include improvements to: legal and ethical frameworks; engagement and governance processes; and will enable the deployment of policing solutions that are evidence based, innovative, and rights-based.”

Since the forming of the IAG, the group have met twice with the next meeting scheduled for May. If you are interested in hearing more about this work please reach out to Georgie, [email protected]

Georgina Henley

Georgina Henley

Programme Manager, Justice and Emergency Services, techUK

Georgie joined techUK as the Justice and Emergency Services Programme Manager in March 2020.

Georgie is dedicated to representing suppliers by creating a voice for those who are selling into blue lights and the justice system, but also by helping them in navigating this market. Georgie is committed to creating a platform for collaboration, from engaging with industry and stakeholders to understand the latest innovations, to the role tech can play in responding to a range of issues our justice and emergency services are facing 

Prior to joining techUK, Georgie managed a Business Crime Reduction Partnership (BCRP) in Westminster. She worked closely with the Metropolitan Police and London borough councils to prevent and reduce the impact of crime on the business community. Her work ranged from the impact of low-level street crime and anti-social behaviour on the borough, to critical incidents and violent crime.

[email protected]

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