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Independent advisory group on emerging technologies in policing - Research commission

Research Activites | Applications due Friday 22nd October 2021.

The Independent Advisory Group on Emerging Technologies in Policing is seeking to commission research that will aid its work in assessing the issues arising from emerging technological developments in policing.

The group is due to report to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice in 2022 on whether the current legal or ethical frameworks need to be updated in order to ensure Police Scotland’s use of emerging technologies in relation to operational policing are compatible with human rights and other applicable legislation and best practice; and to provide specific recommendations or concrete products to address any identified issues.

The group is not focussing on any particular technology as part of its work, instead it is trying to ensure that appropriate frameworks are in place that allow for the consideration and introduction of new technologies. However, in order to provide background to this request, it is of note that the commitment to set up this group was made by the former Cabinet Secretary for Justice at a session of the Justice Sub‑Committee on Policing in 2019. In the last parliamentary session the Committee explored issues relating to the potential introduction of cyber kiosks, facial recognition, body-worn video and remote piloted aircraft systems.

The work of the group is being progressed via four work streams, who will each produce a separate report and recommendations which will all feed in to produce the final output of the group. The work streams are as follows:-

• Legislation & Ethical Standards

• Evidence and Scientific Standards

• Consultation and Community Engagement

• Oversight, Scrutiny and Review

Each of these separate work streams have developed their own programme of work and are asking questions via a call for evidence (see – Independent advisory group on emerging technologies in policing: call for evidence – ( In addition, two of the workstreams are seeking to complement their work and the information received through the call for evidence by commissioning this research.

To support the work of the Legislation and Ethical Standards and the Evidence and Scientific Standards workstreams, we are seeking research support from organisations or companies who could provide legal and social scientific focus and expertise. This support would need to gather and review best practice evidence from other jurisdictions on the regulatory frameworks and ethical processes that are in place to provide legal safeguards and ethical standards that protect privacy and human rights but also provide the ability for police forces to introduce new technologies that ultimately benefit the citizens they serve. To achieve this, we anticipate the research would focus on the following areas:-

• Detail the relevant legal frameworks in place in Scotland. This will comprise of three different parts, namely existing regulation including on equalities, human rights and data protection; the legislation which governs what Police Scotland do and how they do it; and legislation for specific policing activities or technologies.

• To look outward and explore good practice from other jurisdictions, both within the UK, where some legislation is shared, and internationally.

• To explore good practice from other fields, including a comparative look at legal frameworks, ethical standards and the use of evidence and scientific standards.

• Consider whether there are there any legislative gaps which need to be filled.

• Research what impacts on rights do individuals (including witnesses, victims, suspects and members of the public) experience as a result of the use of new and emerging technologies? Are any groups particularly affected? Does the existing legislation provide sufficient safeguards against risks?

We are currently looking to identify organisations or companies who would be interested in bidding for this work, which will be procured via Scottish Government channels. While the Advisory Group are operating independently of Scottish Government, they are providing secretarial and administrative support to the group.

Please contact for any enquiries regarding this call and to submit your note of interest by Friday 24th September 2021.

The Group are due to report their recommendations to Scottish Ministers in 2022 and as a result, we need the workstreams to have completed their individual reports by Spring 2022. As this research will assist the reports that are being prepared for two of the four workstreams, we need the output of this commissioned research before then.

In order to meet this timescale, we wish to be in a position to award a contract by the end of October. We are therefore seeking to determine interest by 24 September with bids to be submitted by 22 October.  

We would anticipate that a final report would be available by early February, but would welcome feedback on the viability of this timescale from any interested parties.

There is a maximum available budget of £10,000 for this work.

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