As the UK General Election approaches, BCS’s Influence Board and our Fellows Technical Advisory Group (F-TAG) are working with the Policy and Communications team on our manifesto recommendations for all parties.

We’re focusing on three key areas:

  • The value of professional registrations and chartered status in building trust in technology and technologists.
  • The need to broaden the appeal of computing education and digital skills. 
  • Closing the diversity gap in technology, particularly regarding women.

Deep fakes and elections

Over 1200 members responded to BCS’ survey on the likely impact of deepfakes on the upcoming UK General Election. Over half, 65%, said they were concerned that generative AI would influence the outcome. The survey results were covered in the Evening Standard, the Daily MirrorThe Independent and, more widely, via the Press Association across local and regional newspapers, along with the online sites of ITV and Pure Radio. 

In addition, 92% of technologists who took part in the survey said political parties should say where and how they are using AI in their campaigns. Our members thought the most effective measures for limiting the impact of deepfakes on the polls are education and technical solutions such as watermarking or labelling AI content.

Mitigating the impact of deepfakes on elections was also discussed during the popular April 2024 BCS monthly Policy Jam. The panel comprised Lib Dem Peer, Lord Clement-Jones CBE, the Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on AI; Lisa Forte, a Cyber Security expert; Tom Bristow,  tech reporter for the news organisation Politico, and Hannah Perry, from the think tank Demos. 

Call to license key AI workers to avoid Post Office-style scandal

The BCS’ Ethics Specialist Group released a major report - Living with AI and Emerging Technologies: Meeting ethical challenges through professional standards. It made the case that every UK technologist working in a high-stakes AI role should be licensed and meet independent ethical standards.  

Our warning that this was necessary to avoid an ‘AI version’ of the Post Office scandal was shared with policy influencers across the spectrum and received coverage in The RegisterUKAuthority, and ScotlandIS. The report’s authors were Prof Bernd Stahl, FBCS, University of Nottingham; Gillian Arnold, FBCS Immediate BCS Past President; Adem Certel, Data Engineering Lead at Knight Frank Property; and Dr Neil Gordon, University of Hull.

There was also a BCS Policy Jam on the same subject with a panel of three of the report’s authors and Georgina Halford-Hall, Chief Executive of WhistleblowersUK. 

In support of that commitment to ethical practice throughout the industry, BCS worked with Professor Michael Mainelli FBCS to launch our Ethical Build of AI course, aimed at various sectors, including finance. 

Michael, the current Lord Mayor of the City of London Corporation, said ethical AI was central to his  'Connect to Prosper' theme. The certificate educates professionals on existing standards and gives them frameworks to apply as they build AI systems. 

Spring Budget

In response to the government’s Spring Budget, BCS CEO Rashik Parmar was quoted extensively in the tech media, appearing in Computer Weekly,  Computing and the UK Authority. The Chancellor’s announcements included additional investments in technology funding for the NHS and the police. 

Rashik said: “This level of investment in technology across the NHS and the police is vital to improve the quality and speed of the medical service and criminal investigation.

“But funding for AI must also include investment in digital professionals – people – who will work with it and lead it at all levels.” He added a high degree of competence, and an understanding of ethical principles were key for those using automated technology that affects lives.  

TUC report

Adam Leon Smith FBCS was quoted in following the TUC’s launch of a ‘ready to go’ legal blueprint for regulating AI in the workplace. As the professional body for IT, BCS has worked closely, in an advisory capacity, with the TUC on this report. 

Adam said: “This draft legislation provides a balanced framework that would not only protect workers from unfair and discriminatory practices but also guide employers on the transparent and responsible use of AI systems. That level of accountability is essential to maintaining public trust in technology and fostering a fair digital economy.”

Diversity and inclusion in tech

There was mixed news concerning diversity in tech. The latest BCS Diversity Report: Disability found that almost 90,000 disabled workers are missing from the tech industry. 

However, our analysis of UCAS figures showed a 10% increase in applications from women to study computing at university in 2024. Various publications, including TechDay, picked this up.  

Cyber security is global security

Analysis by Patrick Burgess of BCS’ Information Security Specialist Group (ISSG)  appeared in the Daily Mail following a government minister’s warning that hostile Beijing-backed actors were to blame for a series of cyber attacks in the UK, including on the Electoral Commission. It was feared NHS data could be at risk. Patrick told MailOnline: “The NHS holds lots of personal data in lots of systems. An attack on any of these which resulted in confidential data being leaked could be very painful for the individuals and lead to a risk of blackmail or phishing.”


The ISSG group also shaped the policy team’s response to the government’s call for views on its Cyber Governance Code of Practice. The ISSG said they approved of its main principles overall but felt a mandatory, instead of a voluntary Code of Practice, might be more effective. 

For you

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BCS Education gave a cautious welcome to government proposals to reform Level 3 qualifications over the next decade with the new Advanced British Standard. BCS questioned the absence of digital skills and computing qualifications.

The reforms would mean replacing A- and T-levels with new major and minor subjects, including compulsory English and maths.

BCS Health and Care Executive responded to a Department of Health and Social Care consultation on information standards. Overall, they endorsed the approach taken for the NHS England standards directory, and advised that vital information standards documentation must be easy to find and navigate.

Office of the President 

Gillian Arnold FBCS concluded her term as BCS President with Alastair Revell FBCS moving into the role – Gillian will remain active as the immediate past president. Daljit Rehal FBCS, Chief Digital & Information Officer for HMRC, was announced as Deputy President.

Alastair runs Revell Research Systems, a management and technology consulting practice, and has held senior volunteer roles at BCS for a decade. Alastair’s appointment was covered in IT Pro and Tech Register. He will continue to support Gillian’s focus on ethics and diversity and champion Chartered status to build public trust in the tech profession.

Congratulations also go to Prof James Davenport FBCS TD (h.c.) FIMA CITP CMath, who received a BCS Honorary Fellowship. James’ thought leadership for BCS in highly technical areas, like AI, has grown our reputation and impact over many years, and he has served in senior volunteer roles across the BCS community.

The appointment of the new BCS Schools and Colleges Committee chair, Dr Sue Sentance, was announced. Dr Sentance is a computer scientist, educator, and director of the Raspberry Pi Foundation Computing Education Research Centre. 

What’s next?

The Post Office Horizon IT Scandal enquiry will conclude later this year. It’s more important than ever that BCS’ promotes the values and voices of professional technologists and advocates for the highest standards of ethics and accountability.