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Complaints, investigations and misconduct

Complaints handling, investigations and misconduct in policing

We publically consulted on Police Complaints, Investigations and Misconduct: A Consultation on Legislation from 24 May to 16 August 2022. Our Consultation Document can be found on our publications page. 

Analysis of this consultation is now underway and will be published later in 2022. For any further information please contact policingconsultation2022@gov.scot.

The independent review of complaints, investigations and misconduct in policing in Scotland, led by Dame Elish Angiolini, concluded in November 2020. The review jointly commissioned in June 2018 by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Lord Advocate assessed the current framework and processes for handling complaints against the police and for investigating serious incidents and alleged misconduct. It considered current law and practice in terms of how Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) operate separately and together to deliver a comprehensive system for complaints handling, investigations and misconduct in relation to policing in Scotland.

Through her preliminary report (June 2019) and final report (November 2020), Dame Elish delivered 111 recommendations for improvements to systems, procedures and the legislative framework and work is now underway to implement those improvement recommendations.

Joint response to the Independent Review

The Scottish Government and Crown Office issued a joint response to the Review in February 2021, with a clear commitment to accept the majority of Dame Elish’s recommendations, many as specifically set out, but with scope to explore options where other routes or mechanisms may achieve the desired outcome. Ministers also committed to bringing forward comprehensive primary legislation to cover the necessary legislative changes to strengthen governance, accountability and a rights based approach, as well as providing a fair and proportionate misconduct process. We are engaging with partners and stakeholders in developing proposals for full public consultation.

Implementation

Since publication of the preliminary report, and in light of the final report, significant steps have been taken by Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC), the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) to progress the recommendations that do not require legislation.

In the Programme for Government 2021-22, we committed to publishing a consultation in 2022. This consultation will seek views on the recommendations which require (or are likely to require) legislation, with the intention of accepting and implementing the majority of Dame Elish’s findings after full public consultation has been conducted.

Concerns about the police

If you are contacting us about policing matters, please note that the Scottish Government cannot comment on, or seek to intervene in, day-to-day operational policing matters, including complaints or questions about particular cases.

If you have concerns about the police, it is open to you to bring those directly to the attention of Police Scotland. You can make a formal complaint to Police Scotland using the contact details below: 

  • complete Police Scotland’s online complaint form
  • dial 101 and make a report of your complaint over the telephone
  • attend at a police station in person (find your local station)
  • write to Police Scotland Professional Standards Department, PO Box 2460, Police Scotland, Dalmarnock, Glasgow, G40 9BA

If you are dissatisfied with the final outcome of that complaint, you can refer the matter to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) who has responsibility to provide independent scrutiny of the way the police respond to complaints from the public. You can contact the PIRC either via their website, by telephone: 01698 542900, email: feedback@pirc.gov.scot or by writing to PIRC, Hamilton House, Hamilton Business Park, Caird Park, Hamilton, ML3 0QA.

Concerns about the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal

Any concerns about the role played by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) should be raised with them directly. You can find more information about how to make a complaint on the COPFS website. Alternatively you can email complaints@copfs.gov.uk, call 0300 020 3000 or write to: Response and Information Unit, Crown Office, 25 Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1LA.

Reporting and governance

In line with commitments made to the Scottish Parliament, and in keeping with the strong theme of transparency and accessibility running through the review, we are reporting on progress setting out key developments as follows:

These reports are structured under nine themes and show progress made towards implementation of improvement recommendations and record the current status of each, including those where the recommendation has been delivered:

The framework consists of a three tier governance structure to oversee and provide assurance on progress towards implementation of recommendations across all partners:

  • the Ministerial Group (MG)
  • the Strategic Oversight Group (SOG)
  • the Practitioner Working Group (PWG)

Read the minutes from the Ministerial Group meeting on Complaints, Investigations and Misconduct in Policing in Scotland, held on 11 March 2021.

Read the minutes from the Ministerial Group meeting on Complaints, Investigations and Misconduct in Policing in Scotland, held on 17 June 2021.

Read the minutes from the Ministerial Group meeting on Complaints, Investigations and Misconduct in Policing in Scotland, held on 2 December 2021.

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