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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

SSS Abstracts Evaluation Results by July 31st (Jun 22)

The abstracts for SSS'23 are now in and are under evaluation. Results expected by 31st July. Details on SSS'23 at: 

Contact for further information and submissions.

The SCSC may help with your Continuing Professional Development (May 22)

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a requirement for engineers registered with most professional organisations.  Attending SCSC Seminars, participating in SCSC Working Groups or even just reading publications on the SCSC website may help you demonstrate CPD. See this article in the Community Space for more information.

Seminar on Rare and Unexpected Risks, 26th May (Mar 22)

Rare, wholly unexpected and severe events such as the 9/11 attacks, Buncefield explosion or loss of flight MH370 are sometimes termed 'Black Swans' and often change our perception and behaviours. This seminar will discuss such events and features speakers from a variety of backgrounds and industry sectors. The event is in central London and blended online. Information and bookings at:

Slides and Presentations from SSS`22 now available (Feb 22)

SSS'22 was a big success with 128 attendees, half of which were in-person in Bristol. Most of the slides, papers and video presentations are now available on the event page under 'Catch Up'.

This was our 30th annual symposium with keynote speakers Graham Braithwaite, Dewi Daniels, Adam Johns, Tim Kelly, John McDermid, Reuben McDonald, Catherine Menon, Wendy Owen and Harold Thimbleby all attending SSS'22 in person in Bristol.

SSS`22 The Safety-Critical Systems Symposium is going ahead, 8 - 10 Feb in Bristol (Jan 22)

This was our 30th annual symposium at the Bristol Marriot Royal Hotel for in person delegates and with online (blended) options.  The symposium will have the full conference suite in the Bristol Marriot but will have a reduced attendance to ensure physical distancing is possible. Keynote speakers Graham Braithwaite, Dewi Daniels, Adam Johns, Tim Kelly, John McDermid, Reuben McDonald, Catherine Menon, Wendy Owen and Harold Thimbleby will all be attending SSS'22 in person in Bristol. It was great to catch up with them!