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by Jenni Davidson
10 March 2021
Former police chief superintendent named as Scotland’s first biometrics commissioner

Fingerprint scanner - Image credit: Metropolitan Police Service

Former police chief superintendent named as Scotland’s first biometrics commissioner

A former police chief superintendent and policing inspector has been chosen as Scotland’s first biometrics commissioner.

Former Police Scotland officer Dr Brian Plastow will be appointed to the post once his nomination has been approved by MSPs on Thursday.

The role of Scottish biometrics commissioner was created last year by the Scottish Biometrics Commissioner Act 2020 and as the first commissioner, Plastow will set up the new office.

The purpose of the role is to ensure that biometric data such as fingerprints, DNA, facial recognition and voice recordings are used lawfully and ethically by police and others in the criminal justice system.

One of the first tasks will be to prepare a code of practice on the management and use of biometric data for criminal justice purposes.

This follows concerns raised over a number of years about a lack of oversight and guidance around how police use new technologies that make use of personal data.

Plastow retired from the police in 2013 after a 30-year career with Lothian and Borders Police, Fife Constabulary and Police Scotland, latterly as a chief superintendent.

He then went on to become lead inspector for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) between 2013 and 2016, providing inspection, scrutiny, and assurance reports to the Scottish Parliament on various topics including roads policing, armed response policing, missing person investigations and the use of the facial search functionality within the UK Police National Database.

He has also worked collaboratively with other scrutiny bodies conducting UK inspections of reserved policy matters such as counter-terrorism preparedness.

In 2017-18 he assisted the work of the Independent Advisory Group on Biometric Data in Scotland, chaired by John Scott QC.

In 2019-20 he supported the Scottish Police Authority’s multi-agency working group on digital forensics and the SPA Forensic Services Committee in outlining future options for biometric data and databases in Scotland.

Plastow has a PhD in criminology from the University of Leicester.

The appointment will be for a fixed term of eight years, with a salary of £70,000 per annum.

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