Police complaints and misconduct

Consultation launched on new legislation.

Plans for future legislation are part of the Scottish Government’s response to an independent review into the handling of complaints against the police.

The Scottish Government has launched a 12-week consultation on a new Bill which delivers on a Programme for Government commitment made in September last year.

The consultation follows the recommendations of an independent review of police complaints handling, investigations and misconduct in Scotland by Dame Elish Angiolini.

A total of 34 recommendations have been implemented since her report was published in 2020, but others require legislative change.

The consultation on a proposed Police Complaints, Investigations and Misconduct Bill will seek views on key reforms including:

  • police officer gross misconduct hearings to be held in public
  • accelerated misconduct hearings for all ranks of officer where the evidence supports this
  • new processes to deal with gross misconduct even after officers leave the service
  • additional powers for the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner including recommending suspension of officers
  • Scottish Police Authority to have liability for unlawful conduct by a Chief Constable

Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans Keith Brown said:

“The vast majority of our police officers and police staff work tirelessly to protect our communities. However we have to recognise that things do, at times, go wrong.

“It is in everyone’s interests – from police officers and staff to the general public – that we have robust, clear and transparent mechanisms in place for investigating complaints or other issues of concern.

“The Scottish Government and partners have already made progress on the implementation of many of Dame Elish’s recommendations, but others require legislative change.

“Through this consultation we are seeking the views of the public, key partner organisations and stakeholders on these important next steps in line with our wider commitment to ensure all public services are accountable, transparent and trusted.”  


Police Complaints, Investigations and Misconduct: A Consultation on Legislation

An independent review published in 2020 and led by Dame Elish Angiolini was set up to look at police complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues. A total of 111 recommendations for improvements were made covering a wide range of areas including expanding the role of the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner.

The Scottish Government committed to accepting the majority of the recommendations and 34 have been delivered with operational partners including Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland.

A further 34 recommendations require legislation to implement fully and the Scottish Government made a Programme for Government commitment in September 2021 to publish a consultation on a future Bill.

The Bill consultation will run for 12 weeks until 16 August.


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