This is the second thematic progress report following the publication of Dame Elish Angiolini's independent Review of Complaints, Investigations and Misconduct in Policing in Scotland in November 2020.
Since the publication of Dame Elish Angiolini's final report and the first thematic progress report in June 2021, 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 recommendations which do not require legislation. Scottish Government also continues to prepare for a full public consultation next year on those recommendations which require, or are likely to require, legislative change or new legislation. This report highlights some of the key achievements made over the period 1 May to 30 September 2021.
The report is structured under nine themes and sets out progress towards implementation of the recommendations recording the current status of each, including those where recommendations have been delivered and signed off. There are also a number of recommendations where, although they have reached completion, are awaiting approval for sign off and will, therefore, be recorded as discharged in the next progress report.
Of particular note in this report is the work undertaken by COPFS in relation to complaints of alleged breaches of Articles 3 (prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) or Article 5 (the right to liberty and security of person) - Recommendation 47. As reported in June, following joint working by COPFS, PIRC and Police Scotland, a model to provide a change in assessment and investigative process was agreed and since 4 October 2021, Police Scotland's Professional Standards Department (PSD) refer such cases to PIRC for assessment and investigation.
Another area of improvement is the substantial programme of work being undertaken by Police Scotland around Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Human Rights (EDI & HR). Police Scotland's Strategic Oversight Board maintains oversight and supports strategic issues relating to EDI & HR throughout the organisation in all aspects of planning and delivery. In the period since the last report, and in relation to Recommendation 18, the EDI & HR Independent Review Group (IRG) held its first meeting. The IRG will provide informed scrutiny of Police Scotland's EDI activity by offering expertise, guidance, critical oversight, challenge, review and assurance and is anticipated to be in place between 12‑18 months with a final report to the SPA Board anticipated in September 2022.
Related to Recommendation 18, HMICS also published its Thematic Inspection of Training and Development Phase 2 Report focusing specifically on Police Scotland's recruitment, retention, development and promotion of people from under-represented groups.
This inspection focused on the internal aspects of Police Scotland's approach to equality, diversity and inclusion, given the importance of a police service that is reflective of the communities it serves, in order to maintain public trust and confidence. HMICS looked at all protected characteristics, and has compared and contrasted the progress made in relation to two - Sex – the representation of women in policing; and Race – the representation of people from minority ethnic backgrounds in policing.
HMICS describes the significant progress Police Scotland has made since the Phase 1 report was published in September 2020, which has been delivered in the challenging context of the coronavirus pandemic. The inspection found evidence of genuine commitment at the most senior levels of Police Scotland to ensure that the service is welcoming and inclusive, but identified room for improvement in translating that commitment into action with a positive impact on the day-to-day experience of police officers and staff from under-represented groups working in Police Scotland. The report made ten recommendations for Police Scotland.
Also of note is the work undertaken to discharge Recommendation 44 under which PIRC has finalised Guidance on dealing with allegations of discrimination when undertaking investigations or complaint handling reviews for publication on its website. Recommendations 30 and 31 have also been implemented to increase public awareness of the work by the SPA's Complaints and Conduct Committee, ensuring that the Committee's work features in the SPA Annual Report and Accounts, which were published in October 2021 and public versions of the private Committee minutes will commence from the May 2022 meeting.
Looking ahead to the next reporting period, the next thematic progress report will also include greater visibility of work already underway to implement similar recommendations from international scrutiny committees. Where there is clear alignment with recommendations from Dame Elish Angiolini's review, we will bring those strands of work together and include progress updates from relevant CPT (European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment) and NPM (National Preventative Mechanism) recommendations.