Monday, August 8, 2022

SNP ministers want UK-wide role for Scotland’s first police czar

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Scotland’s crime-fighting watchdog could be the first in the world to play a truly nationwide role.

SNP ministers want to boost the country’s data protection commissioner’s role to cover Britain’s crime-fighting operations north of the border.

MSPs have already begun reviewing a pioneering draft “code of conduct” on police biometric information.

If passed, Scotland would be the first country in the world to have a framework for using facial recognition, DNA sampling and fingerprints in the Brian Plastow criminal justice system.

According to the plan, Dr. Plastow, a former police commissioner, oversees the use of human data by the National Crime Agency, the British Transport Police and the Ministry of Defense Police in Scotland.

He recently warned MSPs of an “overloaded landscape” with “gaps” in biometric legislation.

His counterpart in England and Wales has a wide-ranging role for the UK in national security matters, limited to DNA and fingerprints south of the border.

Answering questions from conservative MSP Russell Findlay, Dr. Plastow: “It’s a long and tedious process.

“But basically Scottish Government officials are pursuing an injunction under Section 104 of the Scotland Act 1998 to try to extend the functions of the Scottish Biometrics Commissioner to include these three police organizations in relation to their Scottish operations.

“Clearly it is within the gift of Westminster Parliament to authorize this, but in preparation for this I have involved the National Crime Agency, UK Transport Police and the Ministry of Defense Police in consultation when drafting the code of conduct.

“All Chief Officers wrote back positively, stating that if this Section 104 order is granted, they would be more than happy to come under the auspices of my office and my Code of Conduct and would also welcome the opportunity to express themselves report to the Advisory Board.

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