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.

Annex B - Terms of Reference

The purpose of the Review is to:

  • consider the current law and practice in relation to complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues, as set out in relevant primary and secondary legislation;
  • assess and report on the effectiveness of the current law and practice; and
  • make recommendations to the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and the Lord Advocate for improvements to ensure the system is fair, transparent, accountable and proportionate, in order to strengthen public confidence in policing in Scotland.

Whilst the Review will encompass the investigation of criminal allegations against the police, it will not address the separate role of the Lord Advocate in investigating criminal complaints against the police or the role of HMICS in scrutinising the state, effectiveness and efficiency of both the Police Service of Scotland (Police Scotland) and the Scottish Police Authority (SPA). The consideration of specific complaints and investigations will not form part of the review beyond informing an overall assessment of the efficacy of current systems and processes.

The Review will consist of two phases:

  • The first phase will include a consideration of current procedures and guidance to identify areas for immediate improvement;
  • The second phase will include a wider assessment of the frameworks and practice in relation to complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues, covering the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner, the SPA and Police Scotland. Recommendations in the final report should take into account human rights considerations, as well as seeking to identify longer‑term improvements.


Email: ian.kernohan@gov.scot

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