UN convention against torture: our position statement

Account of progress in Scotland in giving effect to the UN Convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, in advance of a review of the UK by the UN Committee Against Torture in May 2019.

Education and training

“ Judicial training must be designed by judges for judges and delivered by judges.”

Director of the Judicial Institute for Scotland, interview, 15 September 2014

Law enforcement officials and prison staff

13. With reference to the previous concluding observations (para. 35), please provide up-to-date information on educational programmes developed by the State party to ensure that all law enforcement officials, prison staff and border guards are fully aware of the provisions of the Convention and know that breaches will not be tolerated and will be investigated, and that any offenders will be prosecuted. Please indicate whether the State party has developed methodology to assess the effectiveness of training and educational programmes in reducing cases of torture and ill-treatment and, if so, please provide information on the methodology.

Police officers

Integrity, fairness, respect and compliance with human rights are central to Police Scotland’s professional ethics and values. Police Scotland training has been reviewed to ensure that human rights, organisational values and the Code of Ethics (CoE)[76] must be considered in the design specification of every course. New recruits receive training on the ethics and values, as well as on both the ECHR and the HRA. In addition, all police officers are required to make the ‘Declaration of Constable’, which includes a commitment to uphold fundamental human rights. These principles have been incorporated into central functions, such as standard operating procedures and operational orders, and the personal development review process has been revised to ensure that the values and CoE are central tenets for development and progression. A presentation on the CoE, which includes the protection of human rights, has been delivered to senior management teams for cascading to all police officers and staff, and all staff have been sent a pocket guide on the values, CoE and the National Decision-Making Model.

Prison staff

In Scotland all prison staff undertake human rights awareness training, which was developed by the SPS College and is delivered by trained officers. The training is undertaken by existing prison staff and new recruits to the SPS. Respecting Individuals and Recognising Rights Part 1 was introduced in 2006 and Part 2 in 2009. The last major revision to the course was undertaken in 2012 following an amendment to Prison (Scotland) Rules. The Equality and Diversity training course also undertaken by all staff includes specific reference to the ECHR.

Following the introduction of new arrangements for monitoring of prisons in Scotland, around 150 volunteers have been appointed to the role of Independent Prison Monitor. As part of their induction programme, the Scottish Human Rights Commission supported HMIPS to develop training around human rights, for delivery in 2016-17.

Electrical discharge weapons

14. Bearing in mind the Committee’s previous concluding observations (para. 26), please provide details on the training methodology and programmes used when instructing police officers and other security personnel in the use of electrical discharge weapons for direct contact, or any other less-than-lethal device or implement used by security forces. Please provide details on any instances of alleged excessive use of force that have occurred as a result of using such devices, and on the outcomes of any investigations into those cases.

In Scotland, just over 2% of police officers have authority to carry firearms. All Police Scotland Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs) are trained in the use of Conducted Energy Device (CED) (TASER) as a less lethal option to be used in support of armed operations. This training is delivered in line with current national UK practices and procedures as directed by the College of Policing and National Armed Policing. The specific National Police Firearms Training Curriculum module and Authorised Professional Practice set out the guidelines relevant to the use of CED (TASER) by police officers.[77] This includes guidance on policy, dealing with vulnerable people, post deployment procedures, safe weapons handling, the application of the National Decision Model as well as successful completion of a nationally mandated qualification shoot and practical based formative and summative scenario training.

The College of Policing mandates that all officers receive a minimum of 18 hours (three days) training contact time for this module. In Scotland AFOs receive 18 hours and train in the Taser X26 device.

In December 2017, Police Scotland took the operational decision to recruit and train Specially Trained Officers (STOs) in the use of TASER. These officers are local policing resources based in locations across all 13 Divisions of Police Scotland, with 52 on duty at any one time. STOs will be deployed to incidents where an assessment has been made that this is necessary and proportionate. The deployment of STOs allows for an officer to maintain a safe distance from the perpetrator, reducing the risk of injury and enabling a safer, quicker resolution. Roll-out began on 1 June 2018 and was completed in September 2018. The Scottish Police Authority (SPA) and Police Scotland will keep the deployment of STOs under regular review. The Scottish Institute of Policing Research was also engaged to review the impact of the roll-out. An initial report was provided to Police Scotland in late 2018 and further work has been commissioned before the report is finalised.

STOs receive 24 hours training time in the X2 device to allow for additional scenario-based tactics and judgemental training due to having no prior firearms training.

There is a wide range of scrutiny measures and oversight arrangements in place to hold the Chief Constable of Police Scotland to account for the actions that he takes and the decisions that he makes. These checks and balances include oversight by the Scottish Police Authority, which reports annually to the Scottish Parliament, HMICS, the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) and the Parliament’s Sub-Committee on Policing. The Chief Constable is required to report to the PIRC any incident where any person serving with Police Scotland has used a firearm. The PIRC will then carry out an independent assessment and decide if a full investigation is required, making recommendations as necessary. The PIRC publishes its reports on its website.[78]

Judges and medical personnel

15. Please provide detailed information on the training programmes for judges, prosecutors, forensic doctors and medical personnel dealing with detained persons on detecting and documenting physical and psychological sequelae of torture. Do such programmes include specific training with regard to the Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Istanbul Protocol)?


Judicial training in Scotland is the responsibility of the Head of the Judiciary, the Lord President. He has established the Judicial Institute to deliver training, with a serving judge as its chair. The Institute does not provide to judges specific training on aspects of torture, however, training on issues around equality and diversity is embedded as appropriate in all of the courses it delivers. Additionally, the Institute publishes for judges the Equal Treatment Bench Book (ETBB), the function of which is to offer assistance and advice to judges, who are duty bound to ensure that all who come before the courts are dealt with in an understanding and sensitive fashion, regardless of their personal backgrounds. The ETBB is available to the public and is kept under review by the Institute.

In an adversarial (as opposed to an inquisitorial) system, it would be for litigants to produce their own evidence of physical and psychological torture, rather than for the judge to detect it.

On 30 January 2019, the Judicial Institute for Scotland announced plans to provide new refreshed training for all sheriffs and judges ahead of the Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 coming into force on 1 April 2019. This includes trauma training and will be delivered via online learning and through face-to-face courses. The face-to-face courses will build on the online learning and focus on the practicalities and issues arising for the judiciary, from investigation and prosecution to conviction and sentencing.

The Scottish Government plans to host a roundtable in early 2019 for NHS Education for Scotland (NES), the Law Society for Scotland and other stakeholders from the legal profession to discuss opportunities to develop a bespoke trauma informed training resource for solicitors to count towards continued professional development.

Medical personnel

NHS Education for Scotland runs a training course entitled ‘Essentials in Sexual Offences Forensic Examination and Clinical Management (Adults and Adolescents)’. The course provides an introduction to the medical, psychological, social and legal aspects of rape and sexual assault, and focuses on “an empathic victim-focused approach to appropriate management, forensic examination, evidence collection, documentation and preparation for presentation of evidence in a Scottish court.” In December 2017 Health Improvement Scotland published Standards for forensic medical examination and management of victims of sexual assault by health and social care services,[79] and the interim quality indicators underpinning these were published in December 2018.[80]

A National Trauma Training Programme is currently being developed by NES to support frontline workers across all sectors of the Scottish workforce who are responding to psychological trauma. This three-year programme will deliver intensive training and support to senior leaders and in-house trainers to incorporate trauma awareness into organisations’ learning and development activity and to help them design services in a way that recognises the impact of trauma. The new national training programme will be consistent with the 2017 Scottish Government/NES publication, Transforming psychological trauma: a knowledge and skills framework for the Scottish workforce.[81] This framework lays out the essential and core knowledge and skills needed by all tiers of the Scottish workforce to ensure that the needs of children and adults who are affected by trauma are recognised, understood and responded to in a way which recognises individual strengths, acknowledges rights and ensures timely access to effective care, support and interventions for those who need them.



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