Independent police complaints review

Dame Elish Angiolini’s final report published.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf and Lord Advocate James Wolffe QC have welcomed the publication of Dame Elish Angiolini's review report into police complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues.

The independent review, jointly commissioned in June 2018 by the then Justice Secretary Michael Matheson and Lord Advocate James Wolffe, assessed the current framework and processes for handling complaints against the police and for investigating serious incidents and alleged misconduct.

The report makes 81 recommendations for improvements covering a wide range of areas including expanding the role of the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) and highlights issues relating to discrimination and their impact on public confidence in Police Scotland.

The final report builds on many of the recommendations made in Dame Elish’s interim report published in June 2019, including around fairness, transparency and independence. A number of operational improvements have already been implemented by Police Scotland and others, including audits of complaints processes, improved training and better communications between key bodies. Police Scotland have also worked to make their complaints system clearer and more accessible on their website as well as increasing the proportion of complaints resolved, where appropriate, through conversations with the person complaining rather than a lengthy, multi-stage process.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said:

“I am grateful to Dame Elish for this very significant piece of work. This is the first time such a review has been undertaken in Scotland.

“Scotland is well served by its police service, where every hour of every day officers and staff are responding to people who are in harm’s way or in crisis, working tirelessly to tackle crime and keep all of us safe.

“We have to recognise that things do at times go wrong, sometimes mistakenly or sometimes deliberately. It is in the interests of everyone in the police family, as well as the wider public, that we ensure the systems for investigating complaints or other issues of concern are as robust and transparent as possible. Those who raise legitimate concerns and those who are subject to investigations must always be treated in a fair and proportionate manner, helping to enhance accountability and strengthen public confidence in policing.

“The Lord Advocate and I will consider this detailed report and all of its recommendations with a range of key interests before responding formally to it.”

The Lord Advocate said:

“I would like to thank Dame Elish Angiolini for her thorough and substantial piece of work examining the system of complaints against the police. It was clear when commissioning this work that many issues would be raised and given the scale of the report there is much for the justice sector as whole to consider.

“The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal will take time to consider the recommendations made in relation to its work and officials from COPFS will discuss any implications with relevant justice sector organisations.”


The Scottish Government intends to publish its response in due course.

Read Dame Elish’s Independent Review of Complaints Handling, Investigations and Misconduct Issues in Relation to Policing


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