Policing emerging technologies report: Scottish Government response

Our response to recommendations made in a report by the Independent Advisory Group on Emerging Technologies in Policing.


New technology offers huge potential for policing in the detection and prosecution of crime and in the protection of our communities. Facilitating the adoption of new technology which draws on evidence-based innovation is important in order for the police to fulfil their statutory duties and to improve  safety. Equally importantly, for the public to continue having confidence in the police, assurances need to be provided that legal and ethical issues have been transparently considered, and that human rights are being transparently upheld. Law and ethics; public engagement; scientific standards; and robust scrutiny are key components of the emerging technologies landscape – and these are the four main themes which formed the basis of the terms of reference for the Independent Advisory Group on Emerging Technologies in Policing, and which are amplified in the Group’s final report and associated workstream reports.

The previous Cabinet Secretary for Justice established the Independent Advisory Group on Emerging Technologies in Policing (ETIAG) to scope the possible legal and ethical issues arising from emerging technological developments in Scottish policing. This was to help ensure that Police Scotland’s use of emerging technologies in relation to operational policing was compatible with equality and human rights legislation and best practice. The group was chaired by Professor Elizabeth Aston and included  membership from:

  • Police Scotland,
  • Scottish Police Authority (SPA)
  • His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland
  • Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
  • Scottish Human Rights Commission
  • Information Commissioner’s Office
  • academics

It consulted with a range of organisations with expertise in technology and biometrics; with research institutes; and with leading academics. We would like to thank Professor Aston, members of the advisory group, workstream groups and the Stirling University research team for their work in developing the final report and associated workstream reports.

The report confirms that Scotland is in a strong position to seize the opportunity to become world leading in adopting a rights-based, ethical, evidence-based, consultative approach to innovation and adoption of emerging technologies in policing. The final report contains 18 recommendations, two of which are addressed specifically to the Scottish Government. This paper is the formal Scottish Government response to the ETIAG’s report and sets out how we will address the two recommendations. For completeness, the full set of 18 recommendations is set out below. However, the Scottish Government would not look to accept the other sixteen recommendations, nor comment or direct policing bodies and other organisations in their approach and possible actions in responding to those recommendations.

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