Police (Ethics, Conduct and Scrutiny) (Scotland) Bill: business and regulatory impact assessment

This impact assessment looks at the costs and benefits of the Police (Ethics, Conduct and Scrutiny) (Scotland) Bill.

Purpose And Intended Effect


In 2018 the Scottish Government and the Lord Advocate jointly commissioned Dame Elish Angiolini, a former Lord Advocate, now Lady Angiolini, to carry out an independent Review of Complaints Handling, Investigations and Misconduct in Relation to Policing ("the Review")[1]. The Review was commissioned five years after the creation of Police Scotland, the Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC). Its focus was to look at how the structures and processes for complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues were working, at a time when the actions of the police saw intense parliamentary, media and public scrutiny. The Review sought to bring greater fairness, transparency, accountability and proportionality to policing, while protecting the human rights of everyone involved.

In undertaking the Review, Dame Elish Angiolini took evidence from policing partners, current and former officers, and a broad range of stakeholders. Her Preliminary Report was published in June 2019 and made 30 recommendations. The Final Report, published in November 2020, outlined a further 81 recommendations, taking the total to 111; most of which were accepted by then Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Humza Yousaf, and then Lord Advocate James Wolffe KC. Most are intended to be implemented as specifically set out, but for some there was provision to explore options to achieve the desired outcome.

Since then, the Scottish Government and policing partners have delivered significant change and reform to the police complaints system. Extensive work has been undertaken to implement the recommendations which do not require legislative change, and to-date 58 non-legislative recommendations for improvement have been delivered, with progress set out in the thematic reports, the most recent of which was published in May 2023[2]. These reports are prepared by the Scottish Government, overseen and approved by a three-tier governance framework[3], which provides assurance on policing partners' progress towards implementation of recommendations.

The improvements made to-date bring greater transparency, fairness and accessibility to systems, policies and processes that underpin the police complaints and misconduct process. These improvements are helping to make the police complaints system easier to navigate for members of the public, as well as increasing consistency, efficiency and swifter resolution for all those involved in complaints, investigations or misconduct. They provide a firm foundation on which to deliver legislative improvements.

This Bill continues that process for improvement. It will provide the framework and help focus attention on the cultural and behavioural changes that are necessary at all levels of policing. Subsequent secondary legislation and written guidance will support those changes.


Email: policeethicsbill@gov.scot

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