Appendix 4: Questions to accompany the principles
The following questions are intended to clarify and aid the interpretation of the General Principles which are the foundation of the Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group’s paper which was used in drafting Chapter 5. Their purpose is also to assist those who are seeking the approval of the Ethics Group for new procedures in order to demonstrate that they have considered relevant aspects.
Principle 1: Procedures should be used to enhance public safety and the public good
- How does the procedure enhance public safety?
- What aspect of the public good is enhanced by the procedure?
- Is there anything further that could be done to ensure that the procedure advances public safety and the public good, without unjustifiably interfering with individual human rights, e.g. the right to private life?
Principle 2: Procedures should be used to advance the interests of justice
- How does the procedure advance the interests of justice?
Principle 3: Procedures should respect the human rights of individuals and groups
- What steps have been taken to ensure that the procedure respects the human rights of individuals and groups?
- What could be done to mitigate any adverse impact on human rights?
Principle 4: Procedures should respect the dignity of all individuals
- What steps have been taken to ensure that the dignity of all individuals is respected?
- Is there any way in which the procedure could undermine the dignity of individuals? If so, how? Do the benefits of the procedure outweigh its negative side effects?
- What steps could be taken to reduce this negative impact? Could the benefit of the procedure be achieved by different means?
Principle 5: Procedures should respect and protect private life where this does not conflict with the legitimate aims of the criminal justice system to protect the public from harm
- Would the right to private life be undermined at all by the procedure? If so, in what way? Is any group or section of the community likely to be especially adversely affected?
- What steps have been taken to safeguard privacy?
- Has the appropriate balance been achieved between respecting the right to private life and public protection?
- What steps could be taken to reduce the negative impact of the procedure on the right to private life without jeopardising the procedure itself? Or could its benefits be achieved by different means?
Principle 6: Scientific and technological developments should be harnessed to promote the swift exoneration of the innocent, afford protection and resolution for victims and assist the criminal justice process
- How will the procedure assist the criminal justice system by affording swift exoneration of the innocent and protection and resolution for victims?
- Is there anything that could be done to achieve these goals even more effectively?
Principle 7: Procedures should be based on robust evidence
- What is the evidential basis for the procedure?
- How has it been tested?
- Has it been subject to peer review?
- Has the evidential basis been challenged?
- What is the error/uncertainty rate?
- What are the quality control mechanisms?
- What evidence is available of the likely impact of the procedure on those to whom it is applied and any others who could be affected by it?
- Where public funds are concerned, has cost-effectiveness been considered?
Implementation of the general principles
What steps have been taken to ensure the following:
- impartiality – procedures should be applied without bias or unfair discrimination;
- proportionality – balancing individual rights and the public good;
- openness and transparency;
- the need for systems to be in place to identify errors/uncertainties;
- the need for quality control;
- the need for public accountability;
- the need for independent oversight where appropriate;
- the need to provide adequate information and, where appropriate, to obtain consent from those from whom data or samples are sought?
Considerations specific to the collection and processing of data
With respect to the collection, storage and use of data, what steps have been taken to ensure the following:
- restriction to specified and lawful purposes;
- adherence to legal requirements;
- accuracy, security and integrity of data;
- robust processes which conform to international standards and are applied by professionally trained staff;
- minimisation of intrusion into private life;
- account taken of interests of secondary data subjects, e.g. family members affected by data collection from others.
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