Independent advisory group on emerging technologies in policing: March 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 11 March 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Dr Elizabeth Aston – Edinburgh Napier University (Chair)
  • Scott Ross (sub for Barry Sillers) SPA
  • Heather Burns – Open Rights Group
  • Andrew Hendry (sub for ACC Gary Richie) – Police Scotland
  • Chief Superintendent Matt Richards - Police Scotland
  • Superintendent Iain MacLelland – Police Scotland  
  • Irene Henery - Equality and Human Rights Commissioner
  • Diego Quiroz - Scottish Human Rights Commissioner
  • Jenny Brotchie - Information Commissioner's Office
  • Georgie Henley - techUK
  • Professor Burkhard Schafer - Edinburgh University
  • Professor Bill Buchanan - Napier University
  • Kyrsten Buist - COPFS
  • Elaine Galbraith – HMICS
  • Catherine Smith (sub for Shelagh McCall QC) Justice Scotland
  • Dr Angela Daly - Strathclyde University

Scottish Government Secretariat (SG)

  • Graham Thomson
  • Ryan Paterson
  • Louise Robertson


  • Mike Callaghan – COSLA

Items and actions

1. Welcome

1.1 The Chair welcomed everyone to the meeting and asked for comments on the previous meetings minutes and the revised Purpose & Remit document. Members were content with the minutes.

1.2 Members commented on the Purpose & Remit document that while the Purpose was clear the remit was a less so. A specific suggestion was made to replace the reference to human rights in bullet point 1 from ‘whether there may be’ with ‘to explore the’. The Chair agreed that suggestions could be put forward to revise this document and that once published on the team space, revisions could be suggested there.

1.3 Chair confirmed future minutes will be circulated soon after each meeting for comments and then published on the webpage.

1.4 Graham Thomson confirmed that SG now have dedicated webpage set up, also working with communication colleagues about a tweet going out shortly. It is also proposed that a blog is written after each meeting to keep online awareness of the groups work. The blog will be in the Chair’s name and will be hosted externally with a link on the SG webpage. SG have also set up a digital teams space on Objective Connect. Members can share/edit documents in real time using this online space and a link will be shared with members following this meeting.

Action: SG to revise purpose and remit document

Action: SG to issue Objective Connect invite & user guide and share all group documents and papers on the team space  

2. Body Worn Video (BWV) Case Study

2.1 Chair confirmed that the group were looking to use BWV as a live case study and the Cabinet Secretary for Justice has asked the Group to consider the issues raised in Dame Elish Angiolini’s report on Police complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues in relation to BWV. The Chair invited representatives from Police Scotland to speak on the subject.

2.2 Andrew Hendry, CS Matt Richards & Sup Iain MacLelland shared a PowerPoint presentation that gave an overview of Body Worn Video.

They detailed the background to the introduction of BWV, which highlighted that it was widely used across UK policing and in the public and private sectors. They further highlighted that BWV have been used in Grampian for some time and continues to be used by 250 officers.

They then went to detail the drivers and potential benefits of the introduction of BWV, focussed on the potential for the supporting of swifter justice outcomes as a result of additional evidence gathering. They also highlighted other benefits from their perspective around resolution of complaints and increased protection for officers.

They then provided detail of the joint strategy between SPA and Police Scotland on the Engagement, Consultation, Design and Implementation of Body Worn Video. They are implementing this in two phases. Firstly, as a priority this will be rolled out to armed policing to help support the policing of COP26 later this year when officers from across the UK will be helping support the policing of this event. Other forces already have access to BWV.

They detailed the approach to consultation, highlighting that an online survey in February had generated over 8,000 responses, which they said were overwhelmingly positive.

They also detailed the evidence they have gathered, the extensive engagement they have undertaken and the internal governance arrangements that are in place. They further detailed the legal and ethical considerations that they have undertaken.

The group than asked various questions on this topic and Police Scotland reps confirmed:

  • Police Scotland are aware of tensions around Data Protection, Human Rights and confidentiality in relation to BWV and confirmed that they had conducted various impact assessments to ensure they were considering these aspects as the technology was being introduced.
  • The Regulation of Investigatory Powers (Scotland) Act 2000 covers all BWV but recognise that there is a potential legislative gap.
  • confirmed their view that BWV is an overt tool and not a covert tool.
  • confirmed that their primary intention with introducing the technology was in crime prevention and detection but as highlighted by the Dame Eilish Report and Met Police ethics panels it could also be a useful tool when it comes to police complaints. They highlighted that complaints against police dropped when BWV was introduced in London.
  • confirm that they currently have, publicly available policies in relation to weeding and retention of data.
  • data is initially stored for 31 days and then wiped. If the footage is used for court purposes then it would be deleted after the courts use of the footage
  • confirmed that the data is encrypted from the moment of recording through to download.
  • confirmed that the while the technology has the potential capability to be used for a wide range of purposes, such as using software to context scanning, they are focussing on base line capability of prevention and detection of crime. Any extension to that would require further consideration and consultation.  
  • confirmed that intention would be to advise that a camera is recording but in extreme instances it might be impossible for officer to advise of this.

2.3 Chair highlighted the opportunity that came with this group considering new technologies and said that the group could provide helpful feedback to Police as they prepare for introduction. Police Scotland welcomed the opportunity for critical challenge and engagement from the group. 

2.4 Police Scotland confirmed that were content to come back to the Group with progress on phase 1 rollout of BWV, happy to give regular updates and forward on published links/documents.

Action – Police Scotland to share a copy of their presentation

Action - Police Scotland (Iain) to provide this list of uses of BWV in relation to Police Scotland’s use of the technology

3. Background/Context Setting Paper

3.1 The Chair covered the context setting paper and highlighted that it was a starting point and that that it would benefit from development and additional contributions from members. She specifically highlighted the gap at section 3.3 in relation to Police Scotland’s internal procedures but the presentation from PS on BWV provided the content to flesh that out.  Chair confirmed it will be shared on the Objective Connect for any members’ comments.

Action: Members to share comments on Context Paper through Objective Connect  

4. Work Plan & Communications Going Forward

4.1 The Chair sought members view on Workplan document. The Group discussed the Workplan and the work streams contained within. The Group agreed that the Paper and proposed structure provided a good basis for organising the work of the group and were content for the workstreams to be started.

4.2 The Chair suggested that there could be 3/4 members attached to each work stream and each stream could prepare a report.

4.3 The Chair sought volunteers to lead and to be members for each stream and the following was decided:

It was recognised that human rights and data protection issues are likely to cut across all work streams.

The proposed Legal Framework & Ethical Standards streams would benefit from being combined due to overlapping discussions although will have to be considered separately within the work stream.  Several members agreed to be involved with that work stream including: Professor Schafer, Information Commissioner’s Office, COPFS, Justice Scotland, Dr Daly, & Scottish Human Rights Commissioner.

Professor Buchanan indicated that he would be prepared to lead the Evidence and Scientific Standards stream. Tech UK would also be able to contribute to this stream.

SPA and HMICS confirmed that they would be happy to take part in the Oversight, Scrutiny and Review stream group

Chair identified a number of organisations which could be involved in the Consultation and Community Engagement stream including Police Scotland, Children and Young People’s Commissioner and the Ethnic minorities organisation representative who is sought to be a member of the group. For all workstreams the Chair recognised that membership and contributions could be sought from the wider list of organisations and individuals identified as potential contributors to the group.

4.4 The Chair confirmed that the meeting Teams chat will be put on Objective Connect as valuable discussions contained within.

4.5 The Group discussed what resources could be used to further the Groups work. Research assistants, masters students and interns could be invited to help progress streams/different areas. The Chair also commented that members could invite additional participants to provide/assist in the streams ongoing work.

4.6 The Chair also confirmed that the Group could look to commission some form of research, although recognised that this would need to be done quickly. The Chair also raised the possibility of a call for evidence. Members agreed that the call for evidence would be a good step forward.

Action: Secretariat to work with Chair to draft a call for evidence for the group’s consideration

Action: Secretariat to share workstream document on Objective Connect

5. Any other business

5.1 No AOB

6.0 Date of next meeting

6.1 SG confirm that the intention was to have Group meetings in May, August and November. Invites for these dates would be sent out shortly

Action: Secretariat to organise and issue invite for future meeting dates

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