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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

IWD23 8th March (Mar 23)

On International Women's Day (IWD) 2023, the SCSC would like to recognise and say thank you to the women engineers currently or recently involved with the club. They work in a wide range of safety-related sectors, and we are very grateful to them and their employers for their time, expertise and contributions.
They include:

  • Members of the SCSC Steering Group: Jane Fenn, Zoe Garstang, Louise Harney, Nikita Johnson, Wendy Owen and Emma Taylor (Wendy is also a co-author of the book “30 years of Safer Systems” alongside Louise Harney (and others) published in 2022.)
  • Nikita and Zoe Garstang are also involved in our Safety Futures Initiative (SFI) for younger members and STEM outreach.
  • Recent presenters at SSS ’23, including: Catherine Menon, Gill Kernick, Laure Buysse, Carmen Cârlan, Doria Ramadan and Marea de Koning. (Catherine, as well as doing many other things, has also contributed to an industry guidance document being developed by our security-informed safety working group.)
  • Special mention to Yvonne Oakshott for her assurance work and long-time support of SSS, Katrina Attwood for editing Newsletters and Amira Kawar for past work on Steering Group and with the Data Safety Initiative.
  • All of those women who participate in the SCSC Working Groups, including WG leaders Sarah Carrington (SASEWG) and Philippa Ryan (SASWG).

We intend to publish a more comprehensive article for INWED (International Women in Engineering Day), which will include historical and international contributors to the field.

International Womens Day 8th March (Mar 23)

International Women's Day is on 8th March. The SCSC is producing a Newsletter article all about women in systems safety, covering both historic contributors and those active in the field today. If you know of anyone who ought to be included please contact The article will be published later in the year.

Club Membership Fees Increase from 15th January (Jan 23)

Due to increasing costs the club membership fees will increase from 15th January 2023. This is the first increase for 3 years.

Individual membership will be £140 per year. For two years this is £250 (i.e. no increase on current one-year rates). For 3 years membership will be £350.

Old rates apply until 14th January. For all those booking onto SSS old rates apply up to 7th February (when purchased as part of the SSS booking).

(Dec 22)

The Early Bird discounts for SSS'23 expire on 22nd December. Please make your booking as early as possible. In addition the club will likely have to increase all prices in January, both for events and membership. It is definitely worth booking now!

SSS 23 Early Bird Discount expires 22nd December (Dec 22)