Independent advisory group on emerging technologies in policing minutes: November 2021

Minutes from the group's meeting on 11 November 2021.

Attendees and apologies

  • Dr Elizabeth Aston – Edinburgh Napier University (Chair)
  • Andrew Hendry – Police Scotland 
  • Georgie Henley - techUK
  • Elaine Galbraith – HMICS
  • Stephen Ferguson – COPFS
  • Jenny Brotchie - Information Commissioner's Office
  • Professor Bill Buchanan - Napier University (on call only for WS2 update) 
  • Professor Angela Daly - Strathclyde University
  • Barry Sillers -  Scottish Police Authority (SPA)
  • Professor Burkhard Schafer - Edinburgh University
  • Ken Dalling - Law Society of Scotland
  • Scott Ross – SPA (for item on workstream updates)
  • Kirsty-Louise Campbell – Police Scotland (for item on workstream updates)

Scottish Government secretariat (SG)

  • Graham Thomson
  • Ryan Paterson
  • Elaine Hamilton


  • Irene Henery - Equality and Human Rights Commissioner
  • Diego Quiroz - Scottish Human Rights Commissioner
  • Naomi McAuliffe - Amnesty International  

Items and actions


Chair noted apologies from Naomi, Irene and Diego. Confirmed that Mike Callaghan has moved posts within COSLA and a replacement is being actively sought.

Action: Secretariat to engage with COSLA regarding a new IAG member.

Chair commented that it was good to see draft papers start to come through by individual Workstreams (WS). Chair also confirmed the request from the Scottish Biometrics Commissioner Dr Brain Plastow, regarding a draft version of a code of practice “On the acquisition, retention, use and destruction of biometric data for criminal justice and police purposes in Scotland”. Members agreed that they would be responding individually through their organisations but could share responses between IAG members.

Secretariat confirmed that Ministers are content with a revised timetable submitted by the secretariat and that the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans has asked to meet with the Chair regarding the IAG’s work. Timetabling was last discussed at the August IAG and will be fully discussed under agenda item 3.

Secretariat confirmed the Call for Evidence was completed and that all responses have been shared with all IAG members and WS members. 13 responses were received in total. Chair asked members if they have any comments on the responses received, any work that they have progressed subsequently and any gaps that the Call did not address.

SR commented on a gap around international best practice. SR has asked Genevieve Lennon to engage with international colleagues to see if this gap could be addressed. Secretariat stated that the research could pick up international best practice but the areas that WS4 are looking at were not part of the original commission. Once appointed, a discussion could take place with the successful bidder to see if governance best practice could also be picked up.

Action: Each WS to look at relevant Call for Evidence submission responses to identify any gaps that remain.

Secretariat gave an update on the research tender. Due to no bids being received under the original advertisement the work has since been re-advertised. This has been ongoing since the August IAG meeting. Secretariat confirmed that an invitation to tender was sent to 9 interested parties and they hope to be in a position to award the contract at the beginning of December and for the work to be completed in April 2022.

The Chair commented that it would be appreciated if WS1 members could look at what support could be offered in terms of leading/support the leading of this WS. The Chair highlighted the difficulty in leading this WS alongside the role or Chair and the other day to day commitments outside of this IAG.

Chair confirmed that the minutes from 26 August 2021 meeting were approved and are available on the IAG website.

AI Presentation by Burkhard Schafer

BS gave an overview presentation to the IAG on the IA Act EUR-Lex - 52021PC0206 - EN - EUR-Lex ( Presentation included details on:

  • general considerations
  • biometric identification
  • high-risk systems
  • policing specific rules
  • general obligations
  • certification
  • the role of standards

BS then invited questions. The IAG commented that it was an interesting topic and in particular to the group’s work, asked about any limitations or gaps and what could be used to address these in Scotland. KC stated it would be interesting to see what practice we could learn for Scotland and what the impact would be to police in other international areas.

Action: BS to discuss with AD and write contribution for WS1 on the possible impact of the AI Act within Scotland and the possible limitations and gaps identified.

Workstream leads - high level update on progress

Legislation and ethical standards – chair gave an update for WS1:

Key focus area 1: requires input from research

Key focus area 2: requires input form research

Key focus area 3: Aidan Curran has submitted an initial draft report. Key Elements of Aidan’s draft:

  • cyber kiosks and their possible introduction by Police Scotland in 2016
  • ICO investigation report on Mobile phone data extraction by police in Scotland
  • cyber kiosks 2021 update including details on Police Scotland’s Post Implementation Review
  • mobile working project (Phase 1 in summer 2019)
  • body worn vdeo including legal and ethical considerations
  • drones

Key focus area 4: requires input from Police Scotland. The contribution has been delayed due to COP26 commitments

Key focus area 5: BS gave a presentation in the previous item which summarised the work done so far and committed to writing a contribution

Key focus area 6: Tatora Mukushi has shared a high level summary of his dissertation. Key Elements of Tatora’s draft:

  • circumstances that led to this becoming an issue that the Cabinet Secretary decided required an independent Advisory Group
  • the legal framework in this area
  • considering the role of state and non-state actors in increasing accountability for policing techniques in this area
  • steps that Police Scotland could take strategically and procedurally in relation to emerging technologies in the future

Key focus area 7: Police Scotland to summarise these proposals and receive input from SPA colleagues

Key focus area 8: The Law Society of Scotland have been leading on this with COPFS and continue to make progress.

Action: BS agreed to assist in Key Focus Area 8 moving forward.

Evidence and Scientific Standards - BB gave an update on the progress that has been made with WS2 but confirmed that due to other work pressures progress has struggled in some of the key focus areas. BB gave a recap of the existing Key Focus Areas and the potential outputs from this WS.

BB confirmed that Sam Curran has produced a report in line with Key Focus Area 1 on the governance/processes for change. He also advised that GH has an upcoming workshop with industry members to look at horizon scanning to identify emerging and developing capability and practice in the gathering of digital data and evidence.

BS asked if this WS will cover hard core evidence law/data sharing. BB confirmed that they could but was unsure whether they could adequately capture thus topic as it was a vast subject matter. BS confirmed that he would be able to extract some relevant information from recent book complied with Stephen Mason and forward on.

Action: BS extract relevant data sharing information from publication and send over to BB.

Consultation and Community Engagement - KC gave an update on the significant progress that has been made and provided an overview of work in development including:

  • reviewing all evidence gather from the Call for Evidence in addition to evidence gathering both national and international
  • examining participatory/democratic approaches and evidence base in the different services in this work area
  • highlighted a plan to bring WS3 sub group members together over 2 sessions (Dec and Jan) to develop final products for the IAG to consider, including a Framework
  • learning from Police Scotland’s existing approach to public engagement, notably on Body Worn Video
  • planning to run BWV through proposed framework to pick up learning points - gaps/value/evidence and to ensure future projects would be democratically sound
  • developing Police Scotland’s public engagement plans for next year taking the IAG’s work into consideration

Oversight, Scrutiny and Review – SR gave an update from WS4. SR spoke about the high level finding from this WS that could inform the WS4 report and the final IAG report and recommendations.

These included details on the proposed process that aims to demonstrate that Police Scotland has taken into account the legal, ethical and human rights considerations in the adoption of any new technology. This process involves several stages:

  • initial concept assessment
  • case for change development
  • informing decision making
  • governance approvals
  • project delivery
  • transition into business as usual

This process is supported by a jointly published MoU by Police Scotland and SPA outlining the principles through which decision making will be developed to ensure the principles of policing by consent are safeguarded.

SR also spoke about the need for Police Scotland and the SPA to keep a view on areas of emerging consideration including the continued use of the newly created Data Ethics Framework and that external evidence and advice/engagement with partners and the public has been undertaken to inform the approach to embedding specific technologies in Policing.

Revised work programme and next steps

The Chair confirmed that the Cabinet Secretary was content with a revised delivery timetable which will see a final report produced by September 2022.and an interim report in June 2022. This revision will allow WS1 and 2 to finalise their outputs following the completion of the commissioned research. It also allows WS3 and 4 more time to develop and refine their outputs.

The Chair invited comments from members about the revised timetable. All members were in agreement that the new timetable was a sensible approach and would allow the IAG to fulfil its remit.

The Chair confirmed the IAG’s next steps based on the revised timetable. This included:

  • WS1 and WS2 to progress against key focus areas which were not reliant on the research until April
  • WS3 and WS4 to compile and produce final draft reports for the next IAG meeting, allowing the Chair and Secretariat to start to develop the interim report
  • that the next full IAG meeting would take place in Feb 2022
  • individual WS meetings are to continue to take place as required

Any other business

Members then discussed the possibility of holding a face to face workshop, either for WS leads or all members, in January if sufficient progress has been made in certain WS areas. Members agreed this would be beneficial in seeking to identify the areas of work that cut across workstreams and potential gaps.

Action: Secretariat to look at organising a face to face workshop in January if COVID-19 guidance permits.

Date of next/subsequent meetings

Chair confirmed that the next full IAG meeting would take place in February 2022. Subsequent meeting would also take place on May and August. Secretariat will contact members regarding these dates.

Action: Secretariat will scope out/facilitate future meeting dates.

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