Consultation on enhanced oversight of biometric data for justice and community safety purposes

Closed 1 Oct 2018

Opened 13 Jul 2018

Feedback updated 29 Jan 2019

We asked

For your views on two proposals intended to create independent oversight of the acquisition, retention, use and disposal of biometric data for criminal justice purposes: the establishment of a new independent Scottish Biometrics Commissioner; and the creation of a draft Code of Practice for the collection, use and disposal of biometric data.  As part of our consultation we set out a draft high level Code of Practice describing the legal framework and proposed general principles; and a note describing the possible general functions and powers of  a new Biometrics Commissioner, for your views. 

The key aim was to seek your feedback on our proposals which aim to ensure an effective, proportionate and ethical approach to the use of biometric data, particularly with regard to children under the age of 18, which will in turn enhance public and professional confidence in the use of such data.

These proposals follow recommendations from an Independent Advisory Group (IAG) which reported to Scottish Government in March 2018.  The full IAG report is available to read at

You said

Our consultation on these proposals ran from 13 July to 1 October.  We received a total of 89 responses. The largest number (88%) were from individuals, with a small number from public sector organisations (7%); third sector organisations (4%) and a professional body (1%).  We also held four consultation stakeholder events (Scottish Youth Parliament; Equalities Groups; Police Workforce; and a mixed event including academics).  These were attended by a total of 44 individuals. 

Respondents were broadly supportive of the two key legislative proposals included in the consultation: 89% being in favour of the establishment of a Scottish Biometrics Commissioner; and 83% of respondents supporting the need for a Code of Practice. Some respondents were in favour of extending the scope of the Code and the Commissioner beyond Justice, to include other public authorities and the private sector.

We did

We published the 40  submitted responses to the consultation where consent had been given to publish the response, on our consultation webpage available at  

We also commissioned and published an independent analysis of our consultation responses.  The full report was published on 26 November 2018 and is available to download at

We announced our intention to introduce a Biometric Data Bill in the  Programme for Government published in September 2018. The Bill will provide a legislative basis for the creation of an independent Scottish Biometrics Commissioner and a Code of Practice, as proposed in the consultation document. 

We will carefully consider findings from your responses and continue to engage with key stakeholders to further refine the policy and shape the content of legislation.  Subject to the wider parliamentary timetable, we expect the Bill to be introduced in the first half of 2019.

Results updated 26 Nov 2018

This analysis report provides a summary of the 89 written responses received to the Consultation on Enhanced Oversight of Biometric Data for Justice and Community Safety Purposes (13 July - 1 October 2018), along with comments made during the four consultation events.

Consultation findings were broadly supportive of the proposals, with 83% of respondents supporting the need for a Code of Practice and 89% being in favour of the establishment of a Scottish Biometrics Commissioner.


Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


This consultation sets out Government proposals on the establishment of a Commissioner to provide independent oversight of biometric data used by the police and others in Scotland and an associated statutory code of practice.

Why your views matter

The biometrics field is evolving rapidly and offers great potential in the identification and prevention of crime and the delivery of community safety.

However, the use of biometric data and technologies raises a range of ethical and human rights considerations. This public consultation therefore explores the potential to deliver independent and ethical oversight of the collection and use of such data in a policing and community safety context.

Full analysis of consultation responses will be undertaken and published following its close. Results will further inform proposals and we will seek to bring forward legislation in the current Parliamentary session.

Download the consultation paper.


  • Constitution and Democracy
  • Digital
  • Equality, Welfare and Rights
  • Public Sector
  • Law and Order
  • Public Safety and Emergencies