Complaints Handling, Investigations and Misconduct Issues in relation to Policing: Independent Review

Closed 13 Mar 2019

Opened 13 Dec 2018

Overview

Dame Elish Angiolini’s Independent Review has been established to look at all aspects of police complaints handling, investigations and misconduct. This Call for Evidence is being issued to the public to help inform that Independent Review. Evidence is welcomed from all individuals or organisations with relevant experience, knowledge and views.

Responses are requested by 13th March 2019.

Role of the Review
On 19th June 2018 the then Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Michael Matheson MSP, made a statement to the Scottish Parliament, confirming the establishment of an independent review, to be undertaken by Rt Hon Dame Elish Angiolini DBE QC.
 
The remit of the review is to:
  • consider the current law and practice in relation to complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues, as set out in relevant primary and secondary legislation;
  • assess and report on the effectiveness of the current law and practice; and
  • make recommendations to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and the Lord Advocate for improvements to ensure the system is fair, transparent, accountable and proportionate, in order to strengthen public confidence in policing in Scotland.
Whilst the Review will encompass the investigation of criminal allegations against the police, it will not address the separate role of the Lord Advocate in investigating criminal complaints against the police or the role of HMICS in scrutinising the state, effectiveness and efficiency of both the Police Service of Scotland (Police Scotland) and the Scottish Police Authority (SPA).
The consideration of specific complaints and investigations will not form part of the Review beyond informing an overall assessment of the effectiveness of current systems and processes.

Background
It is vital that the police can be held appropriately to account if things go wrong.  Without such accountability, policing by consent can be undermined. Without such accountability, it also becomes more difficult to learn lessons and make improvements to prevent the recurrence of mistakes, bad practice, wrongdoing and criminality.

Therefore, it is essential that systems for complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues in relation to policing are fair, transparent, and accountable, respecting the rights of all those involved.  Systems in which police officers, staff and the public can have confidence are vital.

Following a period of intense Parliamentary, media and public scrutiny of the existing arrangements, the decision to establish an independent Review was announced in June 2018.  It was acknowledged at that time that arrangements must ultimately build public confidence in policing, and that questions had been raised about the way in which the existing framework operates and whether it could be improved. The Cabinet Secretary for Justice advised Parliament of his expectation that the Review would ensure that:
  • roles and responsibilities at all levels are clear;
  • there are agreed protocols that balance transparency with an appropriate level of confidentiality; and
  • the framework and processes are fair, transparent, accountable and proportionate, upholding fundamental human rights.
Review Activities
As commissioned by the Cabinet Secretary and Lord Advocate, the Review will consist of two phases:
  • The first phase will include a consideration of current procedures and guidance to identify areas for immediate improvement.
  • The second phase will include a wider assessment of the frameworks and practice in relation to complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues, covering the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner, the SPA and Police Scotland. Recommendations in the final report should take into account human rights considerations, as well as seeking to identify longer-term improvements.
It is envisaged, therefore, that the Review will:
  • provide an initial report to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Lord Advocate, covering the first phase;
  • carry out further necessary engagement for the wider second phase and provide a final report.
To inform this work, the Review's activities will include engaging with key stakeholders, including individuals and families with first-hand experience of the operation of current systems and processes, via a range of channels.  However, beyond informing an overall assessment of the efffectiveness of systems and processes, the consideration of specific complaints and investigations will not form part of the Review in either phase.

Information about the Review's plans and activities will be published as it becomes available.

Why We Are Consulting

Dame Elish Angiolini's Independent Review is expected to make recommendations to help strengthen public confidence in policing in Scotland. It will be able to do that only by taking into account a broad range of views and evidence and looking at the respective roles and practices of Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner and the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service. The purpose of this Call for Evidence is to facilitate that process, by gathering contributions from members of the public, former and serving police officers and a range of organisations.

What Happens Next

Dame Elish Angiolini's Independent Review is expected to analyse the information made available, including the responses to this Call for Evidence. It will assess and report on the effectiveness of the current law and practice, making recommendations to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and the Lord Advocate for improvements.

Audiences

  • People of Scotland

Interests

  • Children and Families
  • Communities and Third Sector
  • Constitution and Democracy
  • Equality, Welfare and Rights
  • Public Sector
  • Law and Order
  • Public Safety and Emergencies