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SCSC Post Office Horizon Position

* The Post Office Horizon system would not normally be regarded as a safety system, yet it is a computer-based system that has indirectly led to widespread harm.

* The ongoing public enquiry has raised important legal, ethical and technical concerns. Problems highlighted include: sub-postmasters could not see what was going on (for example, figures changed remotely without sub-postmaster knowledge), poor quality coding and lack of both audit and fault logging.

* The SCSC fully supports the public enquiry and other investigations, and we agree with professional computer bodies (e.g. the British Computer Society) that there should be a review of how computer-based system evidence is treated by the courts.

* We will look to adopt relevant recommendations and encourage our members to do the same once the enquiry and investigations conclude.

* We propose that organisations relying on computer-based system evidence in court should, where challenged, be required to justify that the system, including aspects such as hardware, software, data and service delivery, is reliable. Furthermore the evidence should be shown to be trustworthy. The justification should also show appropriate confidence in use, including in the way that reported problems are managed. Courts should not accept evidence relating to the computer-based system without this justification.

* Where there are disputes involving computer-based systems there must be fair treatment; i.e. where relevant, there must be access for both sides to technical experts who in turn must be given access to appropriate software and data.

* Post Office Horizon is an example of how systems, organisations, agreements, people and processes came together within a delivered service to result in indirect but severe harm. We suggest that the SCSC Service Assurance Guidance could be useful in such situations to reduce risks.

* We will extend the remit of the SCSC to cover any computer-based systems and services which could cause harm. This will include harm in the wider context of the system including all stakeholders, the environment and consequential harms, not just harm caused directly by the system or service itself.

Note: Here “computer-based system” includes aspects such as hardware, software, data and service delivery. 

AI Investment

Microsoft is opening a new office in London dedicated to artificial intelligence (AI) research and development:
This technology is going to impact us in so many ways - the SCSC will look at some of the safety implications in a series of seminars this year. The first seminar looking at frameworks is on 25th April:

IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year 2024

Applications for the IET Young Woman Engineer (YWE) of the Year Awards are now open, It would be great to see a Safety Engineer win this!

News archive:Page

The SCSC Safety Critical Systems Symposium 2021 (SSS'21) - Call for abstracts (May 20)

The Safety Critical Systems Symposium 2021 will be held from 9-11th February 2021 in Bristol, UK.

An invitation to submit an abstract has been published.  Authors for papers should submit a title and 200 word abstract to by 30th June 2020.  Selected authors will then be asked to submit their paper by 30th October 2020.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) (Apr 20)

The Seminar Safe Use of Multi-Core and Manycore Processors which was scheduled for April is now planned for September.  The Seminar New Safety Analysis Techniques has been postponed until later in the year.  We will continue to monitor the situation and update the status as required.

New: Covid-19 Working group (Apr 20)

If you would like to participate in this new working group please see the working group page at

New: Multi- and Manycore Safety Working Group (MCWG) (Apr 20)

It was planned to launch this new working group at the SCSC Multicore Seminar ( on 30 April 2020. Due to the unprecedented impact of Covid-19 this will not be possible. Therefore, the working group will be launched remotely, making use of WebEx facilities. If you would like to take part, please contact or visit the working group page

Coronavirus is a systems safety issue! (Mar 20)

Read this post on our LinkedIn group