Policing - complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues: independent review

First independent review of complaint handling, misconduct and investigations since the creation of new policing structures in 2013. Dame Elish Angiolini reviewed the effectiveness of the new systems for dealing with complaints against the police, how well complaints are investigated and the processes involved.

Contents List



Executive summary

1. Introduction

  • Terms of Reference and purpose of the Independent Review
  • Methodology
  • Principles that underpin police complaints arrangements
  • Public expectations of police officers and the role of a constable
  • Public expectations of the complaints system

2. Background

3. Legal and ethical framework

  • Codes of ethics

4. Complaints handling process, investigations and misconduct

  • How do I make a complaint about the police?

5. Justice Committee Post‑Legislative Scrutiny Inquiry

6. Themes emerging in evidence

  • Evidence from members of the public
  • Accessibility
  • Lack of independence
  • Failure to investigate or to investigate independently
  • Understanding the process
  • The attitude of police officers
  • Body-worn video cameras
  • Delays
  • Written records
  • Views on the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner
  • Apology
  • Mediation
  • Communications
  • Whistleblowing
  • Call for evidence

7. Police Scotland

  • Professional Standards Department of Police Scotland
  • Frontline resolution
  • Triage
  • Early intervention
  • Independent investigation
  • Grievance procedure
  • Supervisory ratios and promotion
  • Post‑incident conferral
  • The obligation of a constable to assist the investigation of a death or serious incident
  • Malicious, vexatious or frivolous complaints
  • Anonymous complaints
  • Definition of a "person serving with the police"
  • Recommendations in relation to Police Scotland

8. Policing culture

  • Culture, conduct and complaints
  • Leadership and management culture

9. Complaints in the context of inclusion, diversity and discrimination

  • Community relations and attitudes to the police
  • Third-party reporting
  • Public confidence
  • Recruitment and retention of officers and staff
  • Culture
  • Training
  • Support and change needed within Police Scotland
  • Scottish Police Federation
  • Racial abuse from the public
  • Capturing ethnicity data
  • Guidance on discrimination for investigators
  • Part‑time and flexible working
  • SEMPER proposal for A Fairer, More Inclusive Police Service
  • Police Scotland policy - workforce diversity, inclusion & equality
  • Attitudes and behaviours
  • Conclusion in respect of inclusion, diversity and discrimination
  • Recommendations in relation to inclusion, diversity and discrimination

10. Whistleblowing by police officers and support staff

  • Evidence to the Justice Committee on whistleblowing
  • Police Scotland whistleblowing guidance and arrangements
  • Background information on Protect
  • Evidence from the PIRC
  • The Scottish Police Authority
  • Whistleblowing in policing in England and Wales
  • Conclusion in respect of whistleblowing
  • Recommendations in relation to whistleblowing

11. Former police officers - Police Barred and Advisory Lists

  • The Police Barred List
  • The Police Advisory List
  • The evidence
  • Conclusion in respect of former police officers
  • Recommendations in relation to former police officers

12. Scottish Police Authority

  • SPA governance and decision‑making in relation to complaints
  • Preliminary assessment of alleged misconduct
  • Misconduct proceedings, Police Appeals Tribunals and independent legally qualified chairs for gross misconduct hearings
  • The SPA Complaints and Conduct Committee
  • Recommendations in relation to the SPA

13. Scrutiny by local authority local scrutiny committees of complaints against the police

14. Police Investigations and Review Commissioner

  • Functions of the PIRC
  • Accountability
  • Parliamentary accountability
  • Statutory powers on complaints handling
  • Proposed changes to the powers of the PIRC
  • Complaints against senior officers and alleged misconduct
  • Suspension of senior officers in misconduct investigations
  • Investigation of allegations of breaches of ECHR rights
  • The power to call in from Police Scotland a complaint
  • Investigation of current practices or policies of Police Scotland
  • Implementation of recommendations from CHRs and audits
  • Designation as a prescribed body for whistleblowing disclosure
  • 'Relevant complaint' and 'member of the public'
  • PIRC structure and staffing
  • Composition and profile of PIRC investigation teams
  • Diversity and discrimination
  • Access to the Criminal History System
  • Access to Centurion
  • Transparency and confidentiality
  • Complaint Handling Review Team and relationships in PIRC
  • Location of PIRC staff
  • The title of the PIRC organisation
  • PIRC training
  • PIRC culture
  • PIRC performance
  • Recommendations in relation to the PIRC

15. Transparency, confidentiality and role of the media

  • Legal background - Social media posts and contempt of court
  • The media and the police
  • The media and the public
  • Transparency and confidentiality
  • Comparison of PIRC and IOPC publication policies
  • Inhibition of witnesses
  • Balancing freedom of expression and right to respect for privacy
  • The Cliff Richard case
  • Publication of information and investigations

16. Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service

  • Role of the Lord Advocate
  • Reporting of off-duty criminality to COPFS by Police Scotland
  • Direct reporting of criminality to COPFS
  • Recommendations in relation to COPFS

17. Interactions between the four principal organisations, relationships and culture

18. Accessibility and communication

  • Allegations of criminality
  • Communication and language
  • Resolution letters
  • Language and translation
  • Official support and liaison for members of the public
  • Third-party support
  • Customer service principles
  • Recommendations in relation to accessibility & communication

19. Evidence from other jurisdictions

  • The Republic of Ireland
  • Northern Ireland
  • England and Wales
  • Recommendations based on evidence from other jurisdictions

20. Guidance on complaints and conduct

  • Governance
  • Existing guidance

21. Audit

  • Co-ordination of audit arrangements
  • Police Scotland
  • Police Investigations and Review Commissioner
  • The benefits of audit
  • Recommendations in relation to audit

22. Training, continuing professional development and learning culture

  • Scottish Police Authority training
  • Police Scotland training
  • Training on diversity and unconscious bias
  • Mental health training
  • De-escalation training
  • Complaints and conduct training
  • PIRC training
  • Guidance
  • Strengthening the learning culture across the organisations
  • Training in the Police Service of Northern Ireland
  • Mediation
  • Recommendations in relation to training

23. Public sector best practice

24. Custody

  • Experience in custody
  • Independent custody visiting
  • Healthcare provision in custody
  • Letter of Rights for people in police custody in Scotland
  • Duty of Care
  • European Committee for the Prevention of Torture
  • Protecting vulnerable people
  • Public Confidence of People with Mental Health Concerns
  • Recommendations in relation to custody

25. Complaints arising from deaths in police custody or following police contact

  • Background
  • Family Support
  • Delay
  • Deaths in police custody or during the course of restraint
  • Recommendations in relation to complaints arising from deaths

26. Officer and support staff welfare

  • Call for evidence
  • Prevention
  • Support services provided by Police Scotland
  • The Police Treatment Centres
  • Evidence from sergeants focus group
  • Evidence from the SPF representatives focus group
  • Evidence from the SEMPER Scotland members focus group
  • Evidence from the Scottish LGBTI Police Association
  • Evidence from the Scottish Women's Development Forum
  • Summary of evidence on welfare and support

27. Capturing best evidence and reducing complaints

  • Body-worn video cameras

28. Time limits

  • Time limits for the completion of investigations
  • Time limits on the public submitting complaints
  • Recommendations in relation to time limits

29. Cross-border jurisdictional issues

30. Legislative changes

  • Changes required in primary and secondary legislation
  • Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012
  • Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006
  • New reserved/devolved powers
  • Conduct regulations
  • Other regulations
  • Reserved legislation

31. List of all final report recommendations


Annex A - Preliminary report recommendations and progress updates

Annex B - Terms of Reference

Annex C - List of legislation and guidance

Annex D - Standards of Professional Behaviour

Annex E - List of written submissions to the call for evidence

Annex F - Police Scotland Code of Ethics

Annex G - Glossary


Email: ian.kernohan@gov.scot

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