What we do
The Scottish Biometrics Commissioner Act 2020 established the office of Scottish Biometrics Commissioner and provides for its functions.
The Commissioner is independent of Scottish Government and is appointed by Her Majesty the Queen on the nomination of the Scottish Parliament.
The Commissioner’s general function is to support and promote the adoption of lawful, effective, and ethical practices in relation to the acquisition, retention, use and destruction of biometric data for criminal justice and police purposes by Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC).
The Commissioner must lay an annual report on activities each year before the Scottish Parliament and may publish other reports and research, as necessary.
Section 7 of the Act provides that in furtherance of the Commissioner’s general function, the Commissioner must prepare, and may from time-to-time revise, a Code of Practice on the acquisition, retention, use and destruction of biometric data for criminal justice and police purposes. The Commissioner must keep the approved code of practice under review, prepare and publish a report on the Commissioner’s findings, and lay a copy of the report before the Scottish Parliament. The first such report must be laid before the Parliament no later than 3 years after the date on which the first code of practice comes into effect.
Section 15 of the Act requires that the Commissioner must provide a procedure by which an individual, or someone acting on an individual’s behalf, may make a complaint to the Commissioner that a person who is required by section 9 (1) to comply with the code of practice has not done or is not doing so in relation to the individual’s biometric data.
Section 20 of the Act provides that if the Commissioner determines that a person who is required by section 9 (1) to comply with the Code of Practice has not done so or is not doing so, the Commissioner must prepare and publish a report about that failure unless the Commissioner considers that it is sufficiently minor not to merit it. Such reports must be laid before the Scottish Parliament.
Section 23 (1) of the Act provides that where the Commissioner considers that Police Scotland, the SPA, or PIRC has not complied or is not complying with the Code of Practice then the Commissioner may issue a compliance notice. A ‘compliance notice’ is a notice requiring the person to whom it is issued to take the steps set out in the notice to address the person’s failure to comply with the code of practice. Further detail on compliance notices can be found in sections 23 to 26 of the Act.
Section 27 of the Act provides that where a person to whom a compliance notice has been issued refuses or fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with the notice, the Commissioner may report the matter to the Court of Session.