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.


This Independent Review examined complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues in relation to policing in Scotland. Such a wide-ranging subject matter could not have been scrutinised successfully without the invaluable assistance of so many individuals who took the time to assist and support me and the Review Secretariat.

The process involved interviews with many individuals from different organisations and members of the public, as well as numerous focus groups. I am very grateful to the many individuals and representatives of organisations who met with me or provided submissions, information, advice or assistance.

I am particularly indebted to those who attended my focus group meetings; these included Independent Custody Visitors, sergeants, inspectors, Scottish Police Federation representatives, PIRC staff, members of SEMPER Scotland and representatives of organisations brought together by BEMIS. I am also very grateful to the Scottish Women's Development Forum, the Scottish LGBTI Police Association, BEMIS and the Coalition for Racial Equality and Rights for their various insights.

I held a focus group with senior journalists and I am grateful to John McLellan of the Scottish Newspaper Society, Richard Neville of DC Thomson Media and Euan McGrory of the Edinburgh Evening News for being willing to discuss with me issues related to media and social media.

I am very grateful to members of the public who took the time to write to the Review about their experiences, to meet me in person or, after the COVID-19 lockdown, to speak with me by telephone. Many of their personal accounts were very distressing and the fact that they felt able to share them meant a great deal to me and was invaluable to the Review.

A large number of other police officers and staff, PIRC members of staff, SPA officers and Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service staff also made very valuable and constructive contributions during the Review.

Police Scotland assisted throughout the Review and I am thankful for the time given by the Chief Constable, Ian Livingstone, DCC Fiona Taylor, ACC Alan Speirs and Chief Inspector Briony Daye of Professional Standards Department to name but a few.

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner, Michelle MacLeod and her senior management team were all very supportive during the Review, as were the two former Commissioners, Kate Frame and Professor John McNeill.

I am grateful to the current interim Chair of the Scottish Police Authority, David Crichton, Matt Smith, the Chair of the Complaints and Conduct Committee and his fellow members, Grant Macrae and Caroline Stuart, the former Chair, Susan Deacon and the Authority's officials who all assisted greatly.

Although the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service were not within my remit, my understanding of how the various elements of the system interact was enhanced by being able to speak with the Crown Agent, David Harvie, Deputy Crown Agent, Lindsey Miller, Les Brown, Justin Farrell, Laura Mundell and David Green.

I am also grateful to the police staff associations and trade unions who gave their time: the Scottish Police Federation, the General Secretary Calum Steele and his colleagues; the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, the President Stewart Carle and his colleagues; the Scottish Chief Police Officers' Staff Association, the Secretary Andrew Barker and his colleagues; and the unions Unison and Unite for their contributions. The Retired Police Officers' Association Scotland, the President Jim McBrierty and his colleagues, and the Chair Ian McKay and members of the Scottish Police Consultative Forum also contributed in a very constructive manner.

Others whose contributions were very helpful were Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary, Gill Imery; Bruce Adamson, the Children and Young People's Commissioner Scotland; the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman, Rosemary Agnew and her colleagues; the former Auditor General, Caroline Gardner and her colleagues; the Scottish Human Rights Commission; the Clerk and Chief Executive of the Scottish Parliament, David McGill; Bob Matheson and Andy Pepper‑Parsons of Protect; the members of Police Scotland's National Independent Strategic Advisory Group, especially the Chair, Ephraim Borowski for his advice and expertise; the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and a number of local scrutiny committees; Jim Martin and Neil Stevenson of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission; Laura Paton who is Her Majesty's Inspector of Prosecution; Citizens Advice Scotland, especially Vincent Chudy who hosted our meetings with members of the public in the Mitchell Library; the Law Society of Scotland; the Faculty of Advocates; Sir Robert Francis QC; Aamer Anwar; and Professor Peter Watson.

I am also indebted to Charlotte Triggs for the research she undertook for the Review and to Douglas Ross QC for his legal advice.

I would like to thank colleagues from other jurisdictions that I visited to gather evidence for their assistance.

In Northern Ireland the Review learned much from speaking with the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI), Marie Anderson, Olwen Laird, the Chief Executive of the Office of the PONI and their colleagues; Assistant Chief Constable George Clark and his PSNI colleagues; Maura Campbell and her colleagues at the Department of Justice; and James Corrigan, the Deputy Chief Inspector at Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland and his colleague Dr Ian Cameron.

The former PONI, Dr Michael Maguire was also kind enough to give the Review the benefit of his time and expertise.

In Dublin I had very valuable conversations with the Chair and members of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, Judge Mary Ellen Ring, Kieran Fitzgerald and Patrick Sullivan; Josephine Feeley, the former Chair and Helen Hall, Chief Executive Officer of the Policing Authority; the Deputy Inspector of the Garda Inspectorate, Hugh Hume; the Director of Governance at the Department of Justice, John O'Callaghan; and Assistant Commissioner David Sheehan of An Garda Síochána.

I am also grateful for their valuable assistance to the Director General of the Independent Office for Police Conduct, Michael Lockwood and his colleagues; Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matthew Horne of the Metropolitan Police Service; Siobhan Peters and Judith Mullet at the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime; and Nicky Thomas and Suzanne Cadell from the College of Policing. I am particularly grateful to the Home Office experts on complaints against the police, Michael Cordy and Ian Balbi.

Elish Angiolini

11 November 2020


Email: ian.kernohan@gov.scot

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