Complaints, investigations and misconduct in policing in Scotland Ministerial Group minutes: June 2022

Minutes from the meeting of the ministerial group on 7 June 2022.

Attendees and apologies

Joint Chairs

  • Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans, Keith Brown MSP
  • Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain, QC


  • Martyn Evans, SPA Chair
  • Chris Brown, SPA Deputy Chief Executive
  • David Harvie, Crown Agent
  • Craig Naylor, HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland
  • Michelle Macleod, Police Investigations and Review Commissioner
  • Fiona Taylor, Deputy Chief Constable, People and Professionalism
  • Alan Speirs, Assistant Chief Constable, Professionalism and Assurance

Supporting officials

  •  John Somers, Deputy Director, Police Division
  • Anna Stansfield, Head of Police Conduct Bill Unit
  • Catherine MacIntyre, Team Lead, Police Conduct Bill Unit


  • Sir Iain Livingstone, Chief Constable, Police Scotland
  • Lynn Brown, SPA Chief Executive

Items and actions

Welcome and introduction

The Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Veterans, Keith Brown, welcomed everyone to the fourth meeting of the Ministerial Group and thanked partners for accommodating the change to the date and time of the meeting at short notice. 

Mr Brown reflected that it was now 18 months since Dame Elish published her final report and commended partners, and in particular Police Scotland, for all of the hard work being done to deliver improvements.  

Since the last meeting in December there had been a number of significant events which had highlighted the importance of this work. This had resulted in considerable Parliamentary interest and both the Cabinet Secretary and Lord Advocate wanted to reaffirm their commitment to accepting the majority of recommendations.

The Cabinet Secretary then referred to the public consultation which was now live and welcomed the expertise and input from partner organisations to the development of the consultation. He reiterated his view that we should take the best of learning and practice elsewhere, and apply or adapt in a way that is suited to the Scottish context. However, that did not mean that Scotland was in any way behind other jurisdictions and, in fact, Police Scotland was significantly ahead in many areas. 

The Cabinet Secretary also advised that, whilst we could not pre-empt the result of the consultation, policy development would continue over the coming weeks and Scottish Government officials would continue to engage with partners and wider stakeholders to understand current practices and the implications of any proposals to deliver new laws. 


Apologies were submitted as noted above.

Summary minute and action log from the previous meeting held on 2 December 2021

Summary minute (approval for publication)

Ministerial Group members were advised that no comments had been made in connection with the draft minute in advance of the meeting. 

With no comments being raised at the meeting, Ministerial Group members agreed to approve the minute as an accurate record of the last meeting and noted that it would now be published on the Scottish Government website.

Action log (approval)

Ministerial Group members agreed to approve the action log and that action 210311-MG-02 should be closed. Members also noted that although the action in relation to Recommendation 72 was now closed, and the activities to progress this recommendation sit within a different governance and reporting structure, highlights will continue to be provided in future Thematic Progress Reports.

Decisions taken since the last meeting 

The Cabinet Secretary confirmed that, in the last governance and reporting cycle, the Ministerial Group had approved, by correspondence, the following recommendations for sign off as completed:

  • R14: Police Scotland Executive team should consider in depth and review the criteria and competencies that it uses to assess police officers' readiness for promotion
  • R15: Police Scotland to use staff surveys, meetings and focus groups to understand the experience and impacts of discrimination, prejudice and unconscious bias on all minority groups in the workforce
  • R46: Publicising the avenue to make criminal allegations to COPFS directly
  • R77: Restricted duties or transfers during investigation to take account of family circumstances and support

Assurance report including draft thematic progress report (approval for publication)

Assurance report

The Cabinet Secretary summarised the key items of note within the Assurance Report, including the approvals being asked of the Ministerial Group, and invited comments from members. HMCICS Craig Naylor noted that, as someone relatively new to the Group, he had been impressed by the volume of work that had been progressed to date and the presentation of the information had assisted in building his knowledge of the work. PIRC Commissioner Michelle Macleod advised that, prior to the meeting, she had requested a point of clarification to be made in relation to Recommendation 34 before the Thematic Progress Report is published.

Action 220607-MG 01: Officials to ensure that the relevant section within the Thematic Progress Report in relation to R34 is amended to read: PIRC is not supportive of the part of this recommendation relating to the establishment of a Statutory Board. (Note: The amendment was made to the report and accuracy confirmed with PIRC 7.6.22)

Before inviting the Group to consider the recommendations submitted for approval, the Cabinet Secretary added that a significant proportion of the work had been delivered by Police Scotland. DCC Taylor expressed her thanks for the comments made in relation to the work progressed by Police Scotland, noting that this was due to the importance that Police Scotland placed on the improvement recommendations and the work which is being led by ACC Alan Speirs. 

The Cabinet Secretary then referred to the consultation and the complexity of the current landscape, and emphasised that implementation of the recommendations must deliver a more accessible and simplified landscape, with Police Scotland at the leading edge of the improvements. However, tangible progress was being made and if the Group approved the 6 recommendations submitted, this would bring the total number completed to 44, with only 28 non-legislative recommendations still in progress. It would also result in completion of all recommendations within Theme 4: Transparency and Accessibility. 

The Ministerial Group approved non-legislative recommendations 4, 48, 49, 50, 67 and preliminary recommendation 11 for sign off as completed.

Any other business

There was no other business raised.

Date of next meeting

The next meeting is scheduled to take place at 11am on Wednesday 28 September 2022. (Note: This meeting did not take place owing to the death of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and the business was discharged by correspondence.)

Closing remarks

In closing the meeting, the Cabinet Secretary commended ACC Alan Speirs for driving forward the work that is being progressed by Police Scotland. He thanked everyone for their attendance at the meeting and looked forward to the next meeting in September.

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