Scottish Parliament to agree nomination of new Biometrics Commissioner


The nomination for Scotland’s new Biometrics Commissioner is set to be agreed by the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 11 March.

Dr Brian Plastow, a former police Chief Superintendent and lead inspector for Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland, will become the first person to hold the post following an open recruitment competition.

The newly created role of Commissioner is to support and promote the adoption of lawful, effective and ethical practices in relation to biometric data in a policing and criminal justice context. 

Dr Plastow’s appointment will be for a fixed term of eight years, with a salary of £70,000 per annum.  The Commissioner will be appointed by Her Majesty the Queen on the nomination of the Scottish Parliament.

The Scottish Biometrics Commissioner Act 2020 provides for the establishment of the office of the Scottish Biometrics Commissioner and to provide for its functions in relation to the acquisition, retention, use and destruction of biometric data for criminal justice and police purposes.   As the first Commissioner, Dr Plastow will establish the office.

Biographical Information - Dr Brian Plastow

Dr Brian Plastow has significant leadership experience in the policing and criminal justice sector. He was formerly a police Chief Superintendent retiring in 2013 after a 30-year career with Lothian and Borders Police, Fife Constabulary, and Police Scotland. 

Between 2013 and 2016, Dr Plastow was employed by the Scottish Government as Lead Inspector with Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMICS) in Scotland, 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.

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

In 2017/18 he represented HMICS in assisting the work of the Independent Advisory Group (IAG) on Biometric Data in Scotland chaired by John Scott QC, solicitor advocate. In 2019/20 he provided research and assistance to the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) multi-agency working group on digital forensics, and to the SPA Forensic Services Committee in outlining future options for biometric data and databases in Scotland.

Dr Plastow has significant knowledge of, and practical experience in, the use of biometric data and technologies for criminal justice and policing purposes. He has also conducted independent research into policing, equalities, and human rights and holds a PhD in Criminology from the University of Leicester.

Motion to Parliament

The debate for the appointment of the new Scottish Biometrics Commissioner will be on 11 March.  The motion naming the successful candidate can be found here.

Interview Selection Panel

The selection panel was chaired by the Presiding Officer, the Rt Hon Ken Macintosh MSP and the other members were John Finnie MSP, Emma Harper MSP, James Kelly MSP, Rona Mackay MSP and Margaret Mitchell MSP.  Louise Rose was the independent external assessor.

Open recruitment

This appointment will be made in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.  No applicant received less favourable treatment on grounds of race, gender, marriage or civil partnership status, gender reassignment, sexual orientation, disability, religion or belief or age.

Media contact
Eric MacLeod

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