Complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues in relation to policing - final report: joint Scottish Government and Crown Office response

Joint response to Dame Elish Angiolini from the Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Lord Advocate following publication of the final report of her independent review of complaints handling, investigations and misconduct issues in relation to policing In Scotland.

Theme 5 - Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

Our vision, as set out in the Race Equality Framework for Scotland, is for a fairer Scotland where people are healthier, happier and treated with respect and where opportunities, wealth and power are spread more equally. We want to ensure that this vision is achieved equally for all, helping to build a Scotland where we all share a common sense of purpose and belonging. Delivering on this vision is not the work of Scottish Government alone; it requires concerted effort by all public bodies, third sector and community organisations working in partnership with community groups and individuals.

Eliminating discrimination is critical to ensuring we have a fair and equal justice system. We take extremely seriously the evidence presented by Dame Elish of concerns raised by members of the public and police officers of discriminatory conduct and attitudes within Police Scotland. As Dame Elish observes, it is a reminder that in the police service - and in the wider community - attitudes have not necessarily changed as much as we like to believe. The findings of the Review are a stark reminder that we cannot be complacent and those of us in public service, including policing are, quite rightly, held to a high standard.

We welcome the strong statements and swift action from the Chief Constable, Iain Livingstone and the SPA Vice Chair, David Crichton, condemning racism and discrimination and reinforcing the importance of diversity and inclusion within policing.

Police Scotland has confirmed that it intends to address the diversity, equality and inclusion recommendations in the report and recognises the need for bespoke governance to oversee the work, being clear on concrete outcomes, and having metrics in place to capture and measure progress. Work to commission an independent review of equality matters (Final Report recommendation 18) is in the early stages of development; HM Chief Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS), Gill Imery and DCC Professionalism and Assurance, Fiona Taylor are in direct dialogue to shape the work ahead. While acknowledging this is for Police Scotland to take forward, we support this work and that of wider partners, recognising this as an issue which affects the whole justice system.

As HMICS has observed, issues of diversity and equality are important at any time, but have been amplified in recent months by the varying degrees of impact of COVID-19 on different groups, and by protests around the world about racism in society. In the next phase of inspection of Training and Development, the Inspectorate will be looking specifically at the recruitment, retention, development and promotion of under-represented groups.

Within the justice system, there are a range of organisations at a national and local level who work with victims, witnesses and offenders to support safe and cohesive communities. It is therefore vital that we look across the whole system to understand the perspective and differential experiences for minority ethnic groups and work to develop evidence-based solutions to address the issues. The Scottish Government's Justice Board, which brings together partners from across the justice system, has set up two separate groups:

  • the Cross Justice System Race Data and Evidence Group is working to improve both the collection and reporting of race data and evidence on people's interactions with the justice system; and
  • the Cross Justice Working Group on Race and Workforce is reviewing the diversity of those who work within Scotland's Justice sector to assess the extent to which opportunities are spread equally.

The work of these two groups will run concurrently and there will be clear links established to ensure that evidence generated from both groups is shared and considered, as this will support delivery of the groups' aims.

While the focus of the two working groups is on race equality and extends beyond policing, we will explore opportunities for shared learning and collaborative working towards common goals. In terms of workforce, there is a clear read across to Dame Elish's recommendations for better understanding and supporting officers and staff who experience discrimination (Final Report recommendations 15 and 17), removing potential barriers to equal opportunities (Final Report recommendation 16) and to improving training in unconscious bias and the impacts of discrimination (Final Report recommendation 66). On evidence, there will also be links to proposals to improve the collection, use and analysis of diversity data (Final Report recommendations 5, 19 and 60).

All of these recommendations are essentially operational matters for Police Scotland but they are of fundamental importance to the Scottish Government, Crown Office and all partners. Prior to publication of the Final Report, members of the Strategic Oversight Group for Police Complaints and Investigations undertook to identify options for improving the diversity data they collect as part of their own complaints and investigations processes. In addition to the work Police Scotland is taking forward, both the PIRC and SPA have signalled their intention to consider how the recommendations directed to Police Scotland can be applied within their own organisations and PIRC is seeking to identify best practice from its counterparts in other jurisdictions in relation to discrimination (Final Report recommendation 44).

The collective ambition of partners to address the challenging findings in this Review and go further - to act as an accelerant to drive wider change - is to be welcomed and endorsed. We commend the commitment of partners across the policing landscape to tackling discriminatory conduct, attitudes and cultures; to improving the diversity of our workforces; and enhancing the quality of our data, to better understand and serve the needs of our communities.



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