Complaints, investigations and misconduct in policing - implementation of recommendations: thematic progress report – June 2022

Third thematic progress report following publication of the independent review of complaints, investigations and misconduct in policing in Scotland, setting out implementation progress with details of the status and lead responsibility for each recommendation.


List of recommendations in full can be found at: Policing - complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues: independent review - (

The first thematic report was published on 24 June 2021 and the second thematic report was published on 16 December 2021.

This is the third 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. 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.

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 HMICS. Those organisations have delivered major business transformation and service redesign to improve how complaints are handled, bringing greater transparency, fairness and accessibility to systems, policies and process. The first two thematic progress reports, published in June and December 2021, confirmed that 34 recommendations had been discharged and highlighted key delivery milestones, including:

  • Development and roll out of a new operating model for complaint handling within Police Scotland, with all complaints managed by dedicated teams within the Professional Standards Department, supported by a revised Frontline resolution (FLR) process to improve early resolution and consistent service delivery
  • Joint working by COPFS, PIRC and Police Scotland to introduce a revised approach to assessment and investigation of alleged breaches of Article 3 (prohibition of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment) and/or Article 5 (the right to liberty and security of person) where all such cases are referred to PIRC, which will also conduct biannual audits on allegations of unlawful arrests/detentions and use of excessive force
  • Successful deployment of revised Post Incident Procedures, by Police Scotland, in consultation with PIRC and COPFS, ensuring the integrity of independent investigations of serious incidents involving the police.
  • Establishment of Police Scotland’s Strategic Oversight Board to mainstream equality, diversity and inclusion and oversee a broad programme of improvement work, with additional external scrutiny provided by the new Independent Review Group (IRG)
  • Enhancements to online information and guidance to improve accessibility of complaint routes for members of the public and increase awareness of the work of SPA’s Complaints & Conduct Committee.
  • Revised SPA guidance onSenior Officer Conduct procedures rolled out, to improve current processes in advance of legislative change.
  • Suite of new and revised training products and guidance developed by (and between) Police Scotland, SPA and PIRC to enhance workforce capability in number of key areas, including complaint handling and resolution, law of evidence, supporting individuals with mental health trauma, and unconscious bias.

This third thematic report highlights some of the key achievements made over the period 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022. A further 10 recommendations have been completed, including all recommendations within Theme 5: Transparency and Accessibility, bringing the total number of non-legislative recommendations completed to 44. A few of those key delivery milestones include:

  • Significant improvements made by all partners (Police Scotland, SPA, PIRC and COPFS) to improve accessibility for members of the public to the police complaints process, how to make criminal allegations to COPFS directly which is now visible on all partner websites. Police Scotland’s use of a QR code to access the complaints section of their website has also been widely publicised in public buildings and third party reporting centres within the communities.
  • Design of a new training programme for officers engaging with individuals displaying mental ill-health symptoms or related behaviours. Police Scotland has delivered the training to all new uniformed sergeants on Leading Mental Health Incidents which includes best practice on leading incidents detention, warrants, risk assessment and accessing treatment.
  • The results of Police Scotland’s Your Voice Matters staff survey have now been reviewed to identify learning in relation to experiences and impacts of discrimination, prejudice and unconscious bias on all minority groups. High level priorities from the survey analysis have also been aligned with the strategic intention of Equality Diversity and Inclusion and Human Rights (EDI & HR) Strategic Oversight Board and ongoing work will be scrutinised and supported by the Independent Review Group (IRG).

This signals an ongoing improvement journey reinforcing the commitment to strengthening public confidence in policing.

On 24 May 2022 the Scottish Government launched a full public consultation seeking views on those recommendations which require, or are likely to require, legislative change. The consultation will close on Tuesday 16 August 2022. This will help inform how the changes Dame Elish recommended can be implemented as preparations for a Bill continue. We will continue to engage with stakeholders throughout the consultation period and when developing any proposals to implement recommendations.

Finally, in the last Thematic Progress Report, we referred to recommendations made by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment (CPT) and where there is some alignment to recommendations made by Dame Elish in both her Preliminary and Final Reports. These broadly relate to the rights and treatment of persons in custody and the work undertaken to progress Dame Elish Angiolini’s recommendations within the following themes:

  • Theme 1: Rights and Ethics
  • Theme 4: Transparency and Accessibility
  • Theme 8: Efficiency and Effectiveness
  • Theme 9: Audit and Review

We are aiming to provide further detail on this in the December thematic progress report.



Back to top