Complaints, investigations and misconduct in policing: implementation progress report

Fifth 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.

Foreword by Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs and Lord Advocate

Ensuring public trust and confidence in the police is imperative for a healthy democratic society. Recent cases involving the criminal actions of serving police officers will undoubtedly have damaged that trust and confidence nationally. A police service that invites scrutiny and challenge and has an active learning culture and commitment to continuous improvement is essential. We welcome the commitment of the SPA Chair, Martyn Evans and the outgoing Chief Constable Sir Iain Livingstone to assess Baroness Casey's Independent Review into the standards of behaviour and internal culture of the Metropolitan Police Service to ensure that any and all organisational learning can be captured. We are sure this commitment will extend to other reviews taking place in the UK, but also here in Scotland, including the forthcoming HMICS Organisational Culture Thematic Inspection. This inspection, due to report later this year, will assess whether Police Scotland has a healthy organisational culture and ethical framework, including the quality of vetting and renewals, and whether the appropriate values and behaviours are consistently lived across the organisation.

Whilst the vast majority of police officers work tirelessly to protect and support our communities, if things go wrong, the police are held to account, lessons are learned, and improvements made. The principle of policing by consent, so central to our justice system, is built on this accountability. We recognised that although the framework and systems covering this complex landscape were fundamentally sound, further improvements were needed and we took decisive action when we commissioned Dame Elish Angiolini to undertake her independent review.

Since the publication of that review in late 2020, Scotland has been on its own improvement journey in respect of the police complaints and misconduct landscape. Dame Elish's review made 111 recommendations for improvement and as shown in this report the collective commitment and actions of our policing partners mean 58 recommendations have now been delivered. Their delivery brings 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.

This is a significant milestone and provides a firm foundation on which to deliver legislative improvements in the shape of the Scottish Government's Police Complaints and Misconduct Handling Bill[2] which will be introduced before the summer. Legislation, however, can only go so far and this journey of improvement must be underpinned by cultural and behavioural change within our policing organisations. We have been assured by the good work undertaken so far by Police Scotland to drive this improvement forward. The Policing Together Strategy is further evidence of their determination to tackle racism, sexism and misogyny and ensure that equality, diversity, inclusion and human rights are always at the centre of policing.

The challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and other major policing operations over the past three years has been significant and we remain impressed at the level of commitment and continued focus from policing partners to implement recommendations. It is vital that we continue to work collaboratively to strengthen public and parliamentary confidence in policing in Scotland bringing greater fairness, transparency, accountability and proportionality, protecting the human rights of all involved.

We would like to place on record our continued thanks to all partners for the work done in taking forward implementation of Dame Elish's recommendations. Their leadership and determination have already delivered major business transformation and service redesign to improve how complaints are handled. We are confident that they will continue to progress the remaining non-legislative recommendations as we enter into a new phase to deliver legislative change.

Angel Constance
Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs

Rt Hon Dorothy Bain KC
Lord Advocate



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