McArthur: Police biometrics changes long overdue

Scottish Liberal Democrat justice spokesperson Liam McArthur MSP today said the creation of a new expert group to make changes to the police’s use of biometrics was long overdue, coming 18 months after an HMICS report vindicated the party’s concerns and recommended an overhaul.

A 2015 Liberal Democrat investigation triggered concerns about how the police use new and emerging biometric technologies such as facial recognition.

HMICS was consequently asked to conduct a review. In January 2016, it recommended changes including tighter legislation, a statutory code of practice and the creation of a new Biometrics Commissioner.

Mr McArthur commented:

“It has been eighteen months since HMICS agreed with the Liberal Democrats that we need an overhaul. It is right that ministers are finally taking steps towards making the necessary changes but there was no good reason for the Scottish Government to sit on the report for so long and refuse to say whether it accepted its recommendations.

“We have robust controls around DNA and fingerprints because otherwise there is a risk of miscarriage of justice or the authorities amassing data unnecessarily. It should be no different for new technologies focused on our distinctive characteristics such as facial recognition.

“Liberal Democrats will keep the pressure up to ensure all our biometric data is kept and used appropriately.”

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